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Matt Williams: From Digg CEO to venture-backed home improvement startup founder

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What does the former chief executive of one of the most well-known news aggregators do after his company just barely escapes death and gets acquired by seed-stage venture capital firm Betaworks? He starts a home improvement site.

Former Digg chief executive Matt Williams just raised $3.5 million from Jeff Bezos, Andreessen Horowitz, Madrona Venture Group, Redpoint Ventures, Two Sigma Ventures, and Sherpa Foundry for his new venture, Pro.com, a site that helps people get quotes for the home improvements they have in mind as well as find professionals to hire for those jobs.

After taking over for interim Digg chief executive Kevin Rose in 2010, Williams eventually sold the company in three parts in 2012. Digg sold its brand, website, and technology to Betaworks for $500,000, most of its engineering staff went over to the Washington Post‘s SocialCode project for $12 million, and some patents went to LinkedIn for around $4 million.

After the sale of Digg, Williams joined Andreessen Horowitz as an entrepreneur in residence.

He then started up Seattle-based Pro.com last year, and the company is still in its beta phase. It seems to be competing with services such as Angie’s List, HomeAdvisor, and Porch.com, another Seattle-based startup.

However, Williams told GeekWire that he sees Pro.com as different from Porch.com, and that it will be an e-commerce site that takes a cut from the transactions it facilitates rather than a service that charges people for viewing or posting listings.

Also, unlike Yelp, Pro.com won’t list absolutely every professional in an area but will focus on the top ones as vetted by the Pro.com staff.

While the site got its start in Seattle, Williams declined to reveal where it would go next, although he did tell GeekWire that Pro.com will produce a “Pro Report” for consumers in every major U.S. city to help them easily find the best home improvement professionals in their area.

“I truly believe that this is one of those opportunities that … has the makings for a gargantuan industry,” Williams told GeekWire.