Digg co-founder and CEO Jay Adelson stepped down after 5 years at the social news giant. He did this not too long after taking his company into the world of potential profitability. He did this after buying a $3 million house in the area.
Regardless of why he stepped down (and the speculations, accusations, and rumors are flying) one thing is clear.
He took the company as far as he could.
That is both a compliment and a knock against him. It’s a compliment in that he was able to lead the company through tough times and turmoil and not go the way of other social news “dodo birds”. He kept the site as the dominant leader in the world of traffic-driving social news aggregation despite competition from larger entities such as AOL, Google, and Yahoo.
It’s a knock because, while the site is heading in the right direction, the personality and star power of Kevin Rose is the best thing that can happen at this stage. With changes coming that will change the complexion of the site forever after 5 years of minor tweaks, the company needs a little charisma to help it hit the tipping point that so far as eluded Digg.
Kevin Rose is probably not the long term solution. He likely doesn’t want to be the long term solution. He lacks the business acumen to truly guide the company through the minefield that mainstream popularity will bring to the site if it becomes a household name, a brand that is spoken about on news channels the way Twitter made its splash last year.
While he isn’t the best choice to get through the minefield, he’s definitely the right person now to lead the company TO the minefield.
Digg needs the pizazz and personality that Rose brings to the table. They need someone who mingles with Hollywood stars and Playboy bunnies. They need blunt decisiveness, a trait that Adelson has stifled in Rose for the last couple of years.
The changes that will be happening to Digg are going to be massive. They will change the way that Digg interacts with its users and publishers. It will either make or break the website and therefore the company itself. There will be roadblocks, hiccups, and bashing from bloggers and journalists who like the status quo.
For Digg to break through and make it into the big leagues to mingle with Facebook, Twitter, and other powerhouse Web 2.0 sites, it will need to be aggressive through the leadership and public persona that only balls of steel and a pretty-boy face can supply.
Kevin Rose is the right man for the job. Once they get there, he can go back to having fun.
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Read more about Digg on this Social News Blog.