Rose Abdicates Digg Throne as Revolt Continues

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digg_small.jpgADOTAS – Much of the user furor over Digg’s revamp has been directed at founder Kevin Rose, who took over the reigns as CEO on an interim basis when Jay Adelson was pushed out supposedly for the lack of progress on the Digg revision. Considering the bile being spit at Rose since the public unveiling, Rose has decided to step away from the spotlight as Digg confirmed former Amazon higher-up Matt Williams is going to take over the CEO role.

The CEO search had been on for several months and Rose had hinted that a name would appear a few weeks ago, but the company couldn’t have picked a better time to bring in a new face. Rose said on the company blog that even though Williams is taking over day-to-day operations, he will still remain actively involved in the “product.”

An 11-year Amazon vet, Williams’ last position was general manager for consumer payments. He came to Amazon when LiveBid.com, which he founded and CEOed, was acquired in 1999. Seems as if he’s managed to fly (soar?) beneath the radar — here’s an interview with Williams from a few years ago.

Some commenters on Mashable are applauding the appointment, calling him “an undiscovered talent, now discovered,” while on just about every other site commenters are expressing their sympathy for the guy who gets to clean up the train wreck.

As for the user uproar over the Digg revamp — which circles around changes in submission policy that appear to spurn power diggers while making it easier for publishers, brands and celebrities to flood the social link-ranking site — Rose said:

“I know it has been a wild past week since the launch of our new platform. Introducing change is never easy, and bringing something as radically different as Digg version 4 was bound to generate a strong reaction. We are absolutely listening and really value everyone’s feedback as we take Digg in new directions.”

Rose also posted a list of changes made — most important, updating the algorithm so a single source couldn’t dominate the homepage like rival Reddit did — and ones coming soon, including improvements on user recommendations.

Rose seems to be taking this moment to fall on his sword, saying, “OK, it’s all my fault, but this new dude is going to make things all better.” Hopefully irate users will give Williams a chance to clean things up, though Rose did tell AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher earlier this month that being Digg’s CEO is “a pain in the ass and something I would never wish on my worst enemy.”

The top comment on Digg’s company blog sums it up pretty well — tmar89 writes, “Talk about dumping a pile of flaming shit onto the new guy. Or maybe this was the master plan all along? To destroy your own creation before you leave? Excellent…”

The Los Angeles Times blog suggests Williams take a page from Facebook, which “lets things stew for a bit and eventually finds either a mountain or a molehill. Molehills disappear rather quickly. Mountains normally get addressed through company blog posts, often by Chief Mark Zuckerberg. Those messages have offered an excuse, some reasoning or an unusual alternative.”

Not bad advice — bottoms up, Williams.

4 COMMENTS

  1. They better switch the way Digg is setup & not do this forced content approach, or the new guy won’t have any users to manage. People are leaving in droves and I haven’t revisited the site in over a week out of disgust.

  2. Digg will now start their floundering phase.
    Hire some Sr. Exec out of Amazon who ran payments? Yuck. This sounds like a classic Board of Directors CEO hire “Get someone Sr. out of a brand name co. so we can feel safe” But on the web, safe fails. Digg needs an innovator, not a manager. When Apple hired Scully, Apple nosedived, when innovator Jobs came back, they rose to new heights.

    The thrill is gone, the magic of youth and innovation is gone there.

    They need a young, smart, very social media savvy person who will have the guts and the pulse of the internet to keep up with change.

  3. Why does it have to be somebody young? Isn’t that a bit ageist? Jobs is no longer young when he came back, and you still consider him an innovator. At least you didn’t say it had to be a man.

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