Can You Digg It?

Betaworks Acquires Digg, John Borthwick Promises, ‘We Are Reverting Digg to a Startup’

 Betaworks Acquires Digg, John Borthwick Promises, We Are Reverting Digg to a Startup

Could this be our last chance to use this wonderful image?

Just a couple of months after the Washington Post poached most of its staff, Digg proper–the “core assets,” anyway–finally has a fate: It’s been purchased by New York’s own Betaworks, to be combined with News.me.

As for what to expect: Betaworks CEO John Borthwick told Betabeat by email, “We are reverting digg to a startup, expect more things like paperboy,” a feature that lets you automatically update whenever you leave your house.

As for the price tag, well, that’s a little unclear. Mr. Borthwick refused to comment. However, someone with knowledge of the deal told Betabeat said that ballpark number of $500,000 had been floating around and that was the only figure the source had heard. That’s a long way from the $200 million Google is rumored to have once offered for the service, before an acquisition fell through.

Our source speculated that News.me “wanted was more users and traffic,” adding that they hadn’t necessarily been looking for any deals in particular, but “when it came up it seemed like a potential solution to that problem.”

Our source added that the service is “doing very well with their target audience, but I think it wasn’t growing enough beyond that to more mainstream users.” And while having that core audience is great, “John really wants to see explosive growth for anything we do.”

It’s not entirely clear, though, what’s going to happen to the two products. Our source told us that “‪they’ll both continue to exist‬,” adding, “my impression is that News.me will be folded into Digg, but not sure what that timeline looks like or if that’s been absolutely decided.”

The deal was announced on Digg’s blog, in a post by CEO Matt Williams. He explained:

Betaworks is combining Digg with News.me, a Betaworks company with an iPad app, iPhone app and daily email that delivers the best stories shared by your friends on Facebook and Twitter. Digg will join a portfolio of products developed by Betaworks designed to improve the way people find and talk about the news.

Mr. Williams added that Mr. Borthwick will become Digg’s CEO. For his part, Mr. Williams will be headed to Andreessen Horowitz as an entrepreneur-in-residence.

A companion announcement on the Betaworks blog gave a little more insight into what the News.me team will be doing with Digg:

We have spent the last 18 months building News.me as a mobile-first social news experience. 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.

We’re avid users of the News.me app and email service, so we’re excited to see where this goes.