Why Digg is like Brock Lesnar

Social bookmarking site and former UFC champ may never be the same after beatdowns

If you watched highlights of Saturday's UFC 121 heavyweight title match, you witnessed a bizarre spectacle: huge, muscle-bound defending champion Brock Lesnar stumbling around the octagon like a helpless drunk. Of course, Lesnar was under the influence not of alcohol, but of a withering fistic assault by new champion Cain Velasquez. For some reason, watching the massive and intimidating Lesnar stagger and fall reminds me somewhat of the situation now confronting former social link-sharing leader Digg. The main difference, of course, is that Digg's problems stem less from a superior opponent than recent self-inflicted wounds. It's fair to say that Digg punched itself in the face with a disastrous relaunch two months ago that incurred the wrath of users and led many to flee to competitors such as reddit.

It was an ill-advised move, to say the least, primarily because the changes to Digg were too many and too drastic. Why would a successful company tamper so much with what had been working just fine? Earlier in the year, then-CEO Jay Adelson told Wired magazine that "every single thing has changed" and that "the entire website has been rewritten." Great idea! New Coke, anyone? Now Digg employees are feeling the fallout, with 25 of the company's 67 workers getting pink slips. In announcing the layoffs via internal memo Monday, CEO Matt Williams wrote, "Tomorrow, we'll go forward with a new strategy for Digg." One would hope. My first suggestion: Stop hitting yourself, Digg. My second one: Take the first buyout offer you get, because Brock Lesnar has a better chance of regaining the UFC title belt than you have of reversing your sudden plunge toward Internet irrelevancy. Otherwise, Digg, I strongly suspect you'll be tapping out.

Chris Nerney writes about the business side of technology market strategies and trends, legal issues, leadership changes, mergers, venture capital, IPOs and technology stocks. Follow him on Twitter @ChrisNerney.

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