Kevin Rose speaks of Digg’s mistakes

30 Sep 2010

Digg founder Kevin Rose believes the new aggregator lost momentum after pulling its engineers from designing new site features to improve its revenue sources during the recession.

Speaking at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in San Francisco, Rose said if he could change anything on how the company evolved, he would hire more engineers to handle implementing revenue sources rather than pulling existing talent away from designing features for the site.

Digg suffered a backlash from its community after launching a new version of it, making it a more social experience.

Much of its members left to go to its competitor Reddit as a result. Rose believes they should have integrated the features gradually and said they should have maintained old features until users fully moved to the new ones.

Rose also talked about his five-month stint as CEO of the company, after co-founder Jay Adelson left. Recently, Digg appoint Matt Williams, formerly of Amazon, to be its new CEO.

“I think of myself as a PM (product manager) and creative director, so it was hard being a cheerleader for 60 some employees — 10 to 15 employees is where I max out,” said Rose.

“I like to ship product and rollout features and when you can’t do that, it’s frustrating.”

Rose said that Digg turned down an offer of $60m in cash and $20m in earnout at one stage. He said he did not regret refusing the offer.

Rose has become more active as an angel investor to companies like Foursquare and Gowalla. He also spoke about feeling burnt out by working on the site.

“Emotionally, it’s tough when you go through this crazy growth and a bunch of acquisition offers,” he said.