Digg CEO Matt Williams: Kevin Rose’s Role Not Changing

Digg finally officially addressed the rumors and speculation about the departure of founder and Diggnation host Kevin Rose (pictured) that surfaced late last week in a blog post by CEO Matt Williams, in which he emphasized that Rose’s role had not changed since he stepped back from day-to-day decisions last September. Highlights:

We’ve been hearing a lot about how Kevin Rose is launching something new. Everyone knows Kevin is an entrepreneur at heart, and he’s had many projects in the works over the past several years. We’re excited to see what he comes up with next. Kevin continues to be committed to Digg’s success; his role as founder, board member, and Diggnation host remains unchanged. When I took over as CEO last September, Kevin stepped back from the day-to-day decisions. I’m proud of the great team we’ve got at Digg, and they’re the ones to credit for the changes you’ve seen and the new direction we’re pursuing.

When I joined Digg, we had just released a product that was not ready for primetime. It really upset our users. Over the first few months, we dropped in the number of daily visitors and page views. But through this crisis, the lines of communication between Digg and our users opened to unprecedented levels. We received tens of thousands of comments and suggestions from the Digg community about how to restore the site they loved.

Since hitting a low point toward the end of 2010, our traffic has stabilized, and we’ve seen site engagement increase significantly: Diggs up 20 percent, time on site up 20 percent, and the total number of comments submitted per day is up nearly 50 percent. These strong numbers reflect both the passion of the Digg community and the tireless work of our engineering team. Longtime Digg users have been overwhelmingly positive about our ongoing improvements.

All told, we still have close to 20 million monthly unique visitors worldwide, just about 1 million unique visitors each day. We also have more than 6 million registered users, growing by hundreds of thousands each month. Depending on your favorite measurement service, Digg is ranked in the top 100-150 U.S. websites, and our traffic puts us as one of the top news websites in the world.

But even more interesting than where Digg is today is the role we will play in the years to come. Last week, I presented at SXSW on the future of news. The amount of content published is growing by leaps and bounds over previous years — on a path to increase from hundreds of thousands to millions of major articles, blog posts, and media items published daily. A major factor is citizen journalism, set to explode with increased adoption of smartphones and content-sharing apps.

In other words: massive opportunity. More news produced in a day than one can read in a year, yet no one has truly solved how to filter the news that each of us cares about individually. Digg’s community of users helps to curate what’s interesting, but even in our example, it’s just one crowdsourced view of the news. We must head toward a future where the crowdsourced view can be combined with news pertaining to your own interests and news shared within your own social circles. As a company that has been focused since day one on finding the most relevant and popular news online, we have a unique advantage in the industry.

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