The news earlier this week was that John Borthwick’s Betaworks was buying the beleaguered Digg brand. To add a little sizzle, they proclaimed they threw away the source code and started anew intending to release a “rethink” version of the platform in a six week turnaround! Well executed marketing ploy.
I remember spending hours on Digg.
In those early days before Twitter & Facebook, I found all of my news on Digg first. Remember the ‘Digg Button?’ That was how you voted up content… it’s the great-uncle for signaling to the world that you ‘Like’ a piece of content… Now you can mimic the same behavior with numerous buttons – Twitter, Facebook, StumbleUpon, and the list goes on.
Further, my old startup used a Digg button-like action as the basis for our idea voting mechanism, UserVoice. We had portrayed the company as “Digg for Ideas” in the early days.
In any case, the ‘Digg Button’ functionality is still alive and well – only as tributes to newer incarnations.
And then there’s Yahoo.
My fellow former hometown citizen, Marissa Mayer is introduced as the new CEO of Yahoo (yes, we both grew up in Wausau, WI). Pretty big news week with just that – but oh yea, she’s pregnant too, setting the stage for many super-mommy comparisons in the near future.
I still pay for the pro service of a Yahoo Mail address for my personal email. I guess for mostly nostalgia reasons, but messages are delivered to a Gmail account for easier managing. The actual utility of the Yahoo Mail service went downhill somewhere, so I made the switch.
In addition, Yahoo groups was a great service where my wife and I found things to do, tips about new neighborhoods we had moved to, tips on finding babysitters, and a host of other community-based connections.
So here’s the thing…
Both Digg and Yahoo grew their businesses on Communities.
Once the marketers stepped in, trying to ‘optimize for revenue,’ that’s when both companies started the slow death spiral into irrelevance.
It’s about people.
When you leave that basic tenet and start inserting profit into the equation over building a solid community base, you’re sure to start losing your way somewhere.
While we’re at it, let’s talk flickr.
I used to love flickr too.
I still pay for the pro service – not really sure why anymore, but I’m still a customer none the less.
And looking at dearmarissamayer.com I know I’m not alone.
While media outlets have already moved on to the next news cycle…
I’m sitting here wondering…
Will Betaworks and Yahoo be able to give us the community their former leadership took away from us?
If they can do their part, it’ll be up to you and I to do our part.
By that I mean, add these services back into our regular Internet routine — and pay for the services you love most.
If that happens, maybe we will see the renaissance of Digg, Yahoo… and flickr.
What do you think, can Marissa Mayer and John Borthwick pull this off?