Burn, baby, burn! That's the coded message in Digg CEO Jay Adelson's blog post about a "major expansion effort." The website, whose users rate and discuss news headlines, is hiring for 19 open positions, with more to come, as Digg expands internationally. Only at the end does Adelson mention how he's making this happen: $28.7 million in venture-capital financing. Coming after failed acquisition talks with Google, the financing round makes it clear that Digg is now planning to get bigger rather than sell out. It's a strange thing to celebrate.The obvious goal of the blog post is to advertise Digg's available jobs to prospective engineers. But in so doing, Adelson's alerting everyone to Digg's ever-expanding payroll expense — without talking up where the money is coming from. Digg has a sweetheart advertising deal with Microsoft, which sells ads for the site — but it hasn't found a revenue model of its own. And Digg has a management problem which will only get more obvious as the company swells. Adelson, who commutes to Digg's San Francisco headquarters from his home in upstate New York, has admitted that he's not as committed to the company as he could be, having been burnt at a previous startup, Equinix. Founder Kevin Rose, who still commands considerable respect among Digg's contentious users, has made it plain he's not interested in running a big company and taking it public. It's hard to picture Rose and Adelson staying if Digg is sincere about getting big.
In Silicon Valley, it's all about keeping score. The question entrepreneurs are asking about Sarah Lacy's Web 2.0 book: Am I in it? And how many pages? Michael Wolff's chronicle of the first Web bubble, Burn Rate, had a clever conceit: The index was published online at burnrate.com, driving people online to see if they were included in the tell-all, and then to the bookstores to see what Wolff had to say about them. (Too clever by half: The website is now abandoned, and there's no trace of the online-only index.) Lacy's instant history of this frothy time, Once You're Lucky, Twice You're Good, could benefit from having its index published. The book is coming out a week from tomorrow, but it's already in the hands of most of the people she wrote about. Don't you think the likes of Kevin Rose, Max Levchin, and Mark Zuckerberg are counting the number of pages Lacy devoted to them? Soon you can, too. I'll be running all the pages from the index here over the next few days.
Last night Graydon Carter's Waverly Inn was host to a party for Napeolonic media mufti Michael Wolff and former New York mag honcho Caroline Miller's new project Newser, the web 1.0 news aggregator. Ten years ago, Michael Wolff wrote Burn Rate; it chronicled the spectacular failure of his first web venture, NetGuide. Along the way, Wolff seriously burned his backer Alan Patricof and nearly everybody else he worked with. So
when if Newser fails, will there be a Burn Rate II?
The Nation recently reported that right-wing radio show host Rush Limbaugh unleashed his listeners on New York mag's media critic Michael Wolff for complaining that CentCom briefings were not useful. Wolff got 3,000 hate emails from Limbaugh listeners. I, in return, provided Mr. Limbaugh's email address, for anyone who felt like defending Mr. Wolff. Predictably, I got hate mail as well, and despite my usual masochistic impulse to publish what little hate mail we do receive, I declined because most of it consisted of compelling arguments like, "I tape all of Limbaugh's shows every day, and he never said that! You're a moron, you stupid prick!" (You tape all of Limbaugh's shows every day, and I'm the moron? I'm sorry; your logic eludes me.)