Kevin Rose didd it !! August 4, 2006Posted by rajAT in digg, entrepreneur, kevin rose, media2.0, web2.0.
Business Week has done a story on digg.com founder Kevin Rose. Few excerpts from it are here
It was June 26, 4:45 a.m., and Digg founder Kevin Rose was slugging back tea and trying to keep his eyes open as he drove his Volkswagen Golf to Digg’s headquarters above the grungy offices of the SF Bay Guardian in Potrero Hill. This was the day Rose would test everything. Two years earlier, Rose had gambled on his idea to change newsgathering, letting the masses “dig up” the most interesting stories on the Web and vote them onto his online “front page” on Digg.com. Rose had given every last piece of himself to the project — all his time, all his cash, and even his girlfriend, who fought with him after he poured his savings into Digg instead of a downpayment on a house. Today, Digg, Version 3, the one that would go beyond tech news to include politics, gossip, business, and videos, was going live. At 29, Rose was on his way either to a cool $60 million or to total failure.
But for now, Rose is the “It” boy among a new wave of entrepreneurs running the hottest of the top 100 Web 2.0 companies sprinkled around the Bay Area. Together, this network of mostly Valley boys — Six Apart Ltd. co-founder Mena Trott is a rare female among them — fill SF bars like Anu and Wish and Cav and parties at their sparsely furnished lofts.
Rose’s social stock has climbed,too. He has more than 11,000 friends on MySpace. He was a runner-up in blog ValleyWag’s “Hottest Guy in the Valley” contest (think Tom Cruise’s doughier little brother), and he co-hosts a hot weekly video podcast called Diggnation. It’s like a techie version of the Saturday Night Live skit “Wayne’s World.”
At a party for the 50th show, Rose was mobbed by fans and even photographed signing a pretty brunette’s cleavage. The snapshot was posted on Flickr the next day. Video is here n here.
Clearly much has changed since 1999, and Rose and his fellow wealth punks have little in common with the sharp-talking MBAs in crisp khakis and blue button-downs who rushed the Valley as the NASDAQ climbed. In the late 1990s, entrepreneurs were the supplicants, and Sand Hill Road, dotted with venture-capital firms, was the mecca. Dot-commers relied on VCs for the millions needed to buy hardware, rent servers, hire designers, and advertise like crazy to bring in the eyeballs. For their big stakes of, say, $15 million for 20% of a company, venture capitalists received board seats, control of the management levers, and most of the equity.
Now, it’s more like: Maybe we’ll let you throw a few bucks our way — if you get it. Otherwise, get lost.
Digg is emblematic of the ethos of Web 2.0, new consumer and media sites revolving around social networking and do-it-yourself services. Others include YouTube, which serves up some 100 million requested videos a day, rivaling the audience of NBC. Then there’s Facebook, where the college crowd practically lives. The average gamer on Xfire spends an astounding 91 hours a month on the site — it’s like a part-time job. As a result, superhigh valuations are again coming out of the Valley. In a world in which Facebook turns down $600 million deals, the $580 million that Rupert Murdoch’s News Corp. (NWS ) shelled out for MySpace.com in July, 2005, is widely considered to be a steal.
Rose grew up in Las Vegas. His father is an accountant, and his mom “just chills,” he says. They lived in a three-bedroom house on a cul-de-sac. Standard middle-class America. In 1999 he dropped out of the University of Las Vegas to join the action in Silicon Valley, where he took coding jobs for dotcoms. That led to his gig as the TechTV host, which transferred him to Los Angeles in 2003. But Rose was bored.
So far, Digg’s traffic just keeps growing. And Rose is picking up a bit of swagger. His shyness is fading, and his wardrobe has gotten a hipster upgrade. Girls on MySpace swarm him. But the pain of losing his girlfriend isn’t gone, and he says that no matter what happens with Digg, he won’t put business first again.
The tech bust notwithstanding, the Valley is still the only place on earth where geeks with good ideas can become celebrities overnight. But wannabes be warned: As nearly everyone found out six years ago, the fall from rock star to pariah can be just as quick — and not nearly as much fun.