The Thing About Friends and Digg: Hit up the Big Guns

Mahalo has been deemed a crappy search engine by many. However, Digg founder Kevin Rose submitted the website to Digg when it was launched and now people can't stop talking about it. Should Rose be submitting crap to his own website?

Here’s the deal. If you’re real life friends with Kevin Rose, you have a new product website to launch, and Kevin submits the story for you, expect that the submission will make the Digg front page within hours of its submission.

There’s preferential treatment to young Silicon Valley entrepreneurs, and their close-knit circles are pretty exclusive.

Many have contested the launch of Jason Calacanis’s newest venture, Mahalo. The discussion pretty much revolves around the same concept: 1) “old is new again”; 2) this is Wikipedia and; 3) it’s just not scalable.

Many believe that Mahalo, by itself, would probably not gain popularity. Guy Kawasaki’s Truemors seemed to have been big for all of a week but many seem to have already forgotten about it. However, once you have a rockstar Digging your site, you’re bound to make waves and get popular.

Once upon a time, Jason whined that SEOs were snake oil salesmen. Jason said: SEO is BS, if you generate a web page with good content Google will rank the page properly.?? I personally don’t have anything against Jason’s very candid opinion.

However, I don’t think that Mahalo itself is sustainable as a one of those “web pages with good content” (or any content, for that matter). But his buddy and former competitor (after all, Jason once ran Netscape), Kevin Rose, gave him that boost. Consequently, people won’t stop talking about him. For awhile yesterday, people were even bidding on AdWords for the term “mahalo.” That 15-minutes of fame that Guy Kawasaki had has grown into a few hours for Jason. He’s still surfing on that big wave and the exposure is great for him.

Kevin Rose has an unfair advantage as Digg founder. No matter what he does, his Digg stories are going to get popular. One hundred percent of his stories have made the Digg front page, and who could really be surprised? Just about every fanboy (and fangirl) befriends him: he has approximately 28,500 friends (30 friends per page, 951 pages).

But it’s really more than that. Any submission by Kevin to Digg pretty much means that he’s given the story or website his blessing. That’s what many of us recognize as trust. Kevin is the Digg founder, and therefore, his 28,500 friends trust him. They consider his stories more Diggworthy than any others. I don’t blame him, nor do I expect him to stop. However, this is the reality: if Kevin diggs your story (even if it’s a dupe) your website is going to experience the Digg effect.

It’s no surprise that Mahalo hasn’t dropped off our radars yet. Kevin Rose prolonged its stay. Then, Jason and the Mahalo team decided to offer $10-$15 per submission to keep the momentum going. I guess we’ll just have to deal with it and let it run its course. Hopefully, however, the Digg superstar won’t give it any additional preferential treatment.

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9 replies on “The Thing About Friends and Digg: Hit up the Big Guns”
  1. says: Bill Hartzer

    Great post…you have to say that this type of stuff is expected. The only problem with being one of these types–like Kevin, for example, is that he probably has tons of people bothering him all day long to give their “new site” or concept “his blessing”.

    I guess this is why the “celeb types” get paid a lot of money to endorse things. If (your favorite) celebrity endorses the product, then it must be good, right?

  2. No doubt. And a very timely article was published today about the celebrity status that comes with maintaining popular Web 2.0 sites. Michael Arrington gets hundreds of new startup tips weekly, from what I’ve read. One notable quote from the article: “Suddenly, TechCrunch could make or break a start-up.”

    I bet that Kevin Rose could do so as well.

  3. says: Vince Teoh

    Since there was some mention about scalability, I think Digg is much more scalable than Techcrunch, simply because the former is a UGC platform. Digg will live on regardless of whether Kevin Rose submit another Digg because there are enough userbase to continue submitting/ digging; Techcrunch won’t have such luxury should Michael Arrington retire.

  4. Right, Vince. The question isn’t about Digg’s scalability, but rather, Mahalo’s.

    But Kevin Rose is celebrity, and people like what celebrities like. That’s why you hear reports of stores selling out of particular products that are endorsed by movie stars. That’s why you have Derek Jeter of the New York Yankees on a huge billboard in NYC endorsing the Movado watch brand. That’s why Anna Kournikova promotes the Canon PowerShot brand. People generally assume that these celebrities actually practice what they preach, and they want to be followers.

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