Tuesday, January 16, 2007

My Day At Digg

A friend sent me a link to the Digg blog contest because he knew that I occasionally visited the site. I entered on both the strength of his recommendation and the allure of a paid trip to San Francisco to meet one of the darlings of Tech Bubble 2.0. Writing the blog entries actually helped me figure out that one of my passions is seeing great ideas come to fruition and success. Digg is one of those ideas, and it was consequently doubly sweet to hear I’d received the trip to go see such an idea in motion.

Experience put me up in a pretty swanky hotel right off Union Square. I’ve heard that hugely popular Internet start-ups can indulge on some luxuries, but I didn’t know that those privileges extended to their visitors. Pretty nice. Digg’s offices were just a short taxi ride from the hotel, in a building that also houses the Guardian newspaper. It was nestled between the 101 freeway and a hilly neighborhood; by no means in the spotlight—that belonged to the Macworld Expo back downtown.

As soon as I stepped in the door, “Digg Ambassador” Nicole welcomed me, offered me a drink from their refrigerator (“Not as big as Google’s,” according to Jay, the CEO), and took me to see the view from the roof. It was pretty cool to see San Francisco from the open rooftops, but even cooler to come back down and see that the main workspace was just as open. We came back down from the roof and I got to see a live taping of Diggnation in the board room—Kevin and Alex’s banter was the same off-screen as it is on the show. They even got pumped to argue over a certain story. Kevin Rose certainly has developed an image from what is said on the show, but it was exciting to see him in real life. Still down-to-earth and easygoing, but thrilled to show me an upcoming Digg feature, like any kid showing off his new toy.

Jay Adelson was eager too, to share the advice gained from years in the tech sector. One funny point he reiterated was that despite his earlier choices, he’s still a CEO today. Clearly, passion is a big factor for anyone who works at Digg, from the CEO down to the programmers. Most of their code knowledge was over my head, but I was able to at least talk skateboards with a couple of them and look at some cool Digg statistics, while the higher-ups were in a board meeting. I got to have a final talk with Jay, Kevin and Mike Maser (Director of Marketing) about the future for both Digg and myself. I’ll be waiting to see how the Digg theme of “wisdom of the crowds” is applied to other markets.

As I said before, passion was a common trait in everyone at Digg, along with a great sense of humor and a general friendliness. The theme of my blog was to expose a cool idea and see how it played out in the market, and it’s clear that the people at Digg have a bunch of amazing ideas and the desire to flesh them out. I’m very grateful to have had the opportunity to peek into their offices and observe them in action.