Content-sharing site Digg has been sold to Betaworks, and the technology investment company grabbed the waning social starlet for only $500,000, according to The Wall Street Journal.
Of course Betaworks is only really acquiring Digg’s technology, with founder Kevin Rose having left the company last March and Google having hired him this past March, and The Washington Post-owned social marketing firm SocialCode picking up a slew of Digg engineers in May.
Betaworks plans to return Digg to its startup roots, specifically aligning it with the company’s Facebook-and-Twitter curation app News.me, per a Betaworks blog post announcing the deal. “The News.me team will take Digg back to its essence: the best place to find, read and share the stories the Internet is talking about. Right now,” the company wrote.
To be acquired for half-a-million dollars at a time when photo-sharing startups go for $1 billion with no set business model, Digg has obviously fallen from the days of headlines touting it as a $60 million business. (Businessweek appears to have tried erasing that cover image from the annals—although not the corresponding story, to its credit—but the Internet does not allow such things.)
But the company—along with Reddit, which also launched in 2005 but was bought by Condé Nast the following year—pioneered social sharing, laying the groundwork for today’s online publishing status quo. ReadWriteWeb editor Dan Frommer pointed out on Twitter that the popularity of Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn as social sharing tools is in large part thanks to Digg.
“Digg, if I recall, was first third-party widget that big web/media dared install,” Frommer tweeted.