When they launched Digg Newsrooms Beta yesterday, much of the buzz within the community was both positive and hopeful. There was skepticism to be sure as Digg made disastrous moves on their last major launch last year with v4, but the overall sentiment was strong.
Shortly after the launch, Digg CEO Matt Williams appeared on Bloomberg with Emily Chang on Bloomberg West. The piece, called “Digg-Ing Out of a Hole,” met Williams with tough questions and an honest “no holds barred” batch of questions from Chang.
Williams answered the questions with a mixture of passion and factual statements.
“Who is the Digg userbase, though?” Chang asked. “I mean, this is a world where, to be fair, a lot of people have written Digg off. Who’s using this?”
Williams pointed out that Digg has over 17 million monthly unique visitors and about a million a day. Part of the reason for launching Newsrooms was to acquire new users, Williams said.
Chang continued to press about the future, noting that co-founder Kevin Rose had left and wondering what made Digg different from sites like MySpace that failed to adapt. Then, the real question came up: money.
“We are on a great path to profitability in early 2012,” Williams said. “We have more than enough cash. We’ve got great investors that are backing us from Greylock to Andreessen-Horowitz. But where we are from a cash perspective is we have an advertising-driven model on a new ad unit that we’ve invented which is a story stream ad unit that gets higher click-thru rates than just about any other ad unit out there.”
As Newsrooms is rolled out to new users and the buzz surrounding it plays out, interest should grow in the site again. Whether that interest can be sustained is the big question. Will Newsrooms be enough to rejuvenate the site?