Digg beefs up its funding for major expansion plans

With over 30 million monthly unique users, Digg is a juggernaut of a site. Despite perpetual rumors of an imminent acquisition by major players like Google or Microsoft, the social voting site is now gearing up for a major expansion on its own. And it’s just secured a big round of funding to make that expansion possible.

Interestingly, almost half of Digg’s users are outside of the U.S. now, the service claims on its blog. So one of the big pushes for an expansion of the site into 2009 will be an emphasis on local — both in tastes and languages, something that I’ve noted in the past would likely be a good idea. Mixx, a Digg competitor, had placed an emphasis on local news early on, but that site still has nowhere near the traction of Digg.

When asked about what specific areas of the world the company may target first with its expansion plans, Digg would only say that it hasn’t announce a roll-out plan yet.

Other efforts in Digg’s expansion include improving its recently launched recommendation system — which a couple months in seems to be working pretty well. This will coincide with more efforts to make it easier to discover and organize the huge amount of data that Digg amasses on any given day.

Expanding community outreach programs and working on new tools for publishers are two other areas Digg says it will focus on.

Naturally, to handle all of this new work, the company is also hiring. It will also be moving into a larger office in the San Francisco, Calif. area next year.

Digg’s new $28.7 million round was led by Highland Capital Partners. Existing backers Greylock Partners, Silicon Valley Bank and the Omidyar Network also participated, according to The New York Times’ Bits blog. Digg has raised a total of $40 million now in three rounds.

While Digg declined to comment on where this latest round puts its valuation, one thing is for certain: If a big player is still looking to buy Digg, the price just went up. Digg seems content to go it alone for the foreseeable future.

[photo: flickr/ericskiff]


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