Sarah Lacy’s new book, Once You’re Lucky, Twice You’re Good: The Rebirth of Silicon Valley and the Rise of Web 2.0 (goes on sale on Thursday, pre-order here, get free autographed copy here) does a deep dive into the histories of a number of high profile web startups.
But Lacy was also able to uncover a few stories that were never covered in the day-to-day press. One of my favorites: the story of a failed 2006 attempt by Al Gore’s CurrentTV to buy Digg:
At the meeting Gore ran the room. He charmed everyone on the Digg team. He remembered everyone’s name, and if someone got cut off, he was careful to come back to him and ask him to finish what he was saying. It was quite a contrast to the meeting with Murdoch. “It made me feel so good to know this guy is legit,” Kevin says, remembering and still glowing. “You could just tell.”
They came back a few weeks later. Gore was there again, with a glossy PowerPoint presentation that showed the CurrentTV and Digg logos coming together. Gore was standing in front of the screen, eyes on Kevin, with the Digg logo projected across his forehead. Kevin was trying his hardest to pay attention to what Gore was saying, but he was focusing at this large Digg logo on Al Gore’s forehead, thinking, “Oh. My. God.” That night twenty-nine-year-old Kevin called his parents. “You’re never going to believe what I saw on Al Gore’s forehead today,” he said.
CurrentTV ultimately made an offfer “at least in the range of $100 million,” but Rose and Digg CEO Jay Adelson walked away due to issues of control going forward.
Digg has been the subject of nearly constant buyout speculation, starting with a $4 million offer from Jason Calcanis in 2005 and a rumored $30 million deal with Yahoo in January 2006. More recently we reported their recent efforts to sell through investment bank Allen & Co. The complete history is here.
At the time of the offer, Digg had just 1.3 million or so monthly unique visitors according to Comscore. Today, Comscore says they have 13.3 million worldwide monthly uniques (this is almost certainly lower than actual). But sources have been telling us that they’ve been unable to get to their desired $200 million offer and may be raising money instead.