Peter Kafka

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Digg CEO Jay Adelson Steps Out

Digg CEO Jay Adelson has left the company he has run for the past five years, leaving founder Kevin Rose to run the social news site in the interim.

Statements from Adelson and Rose (below) do not shed light on what happened, though I imagine the picture will start coming together in the near future.

But I can start by noting that Adelson has long been said to be restless at Digg and that he and the company’s board of directors have reportedly butted heads several times. Adelson, who commuted for years between Digg’s San Francisco offices and his home in suburban New York, finally moved his family to the Bay Area last fall.

Digg used to be best known as a company that was always going to be acquired but never got acquired. Google (GOOG) got close to buying it in the summer of 2008, and then backed away from the deal during due diligence.

Meanwhile, Digg’s growth has flat-lined for a while. Here via comScore (SCOR) is what it has looked since October 2009 (click to enlarge):

Here’s the official word from Jay Adelson, followed by Kevin Rose.

Hey all,

Got some news. After five years, forty million users, and an amazing ride, I’ve decided to step down as CEO of Digg. With the new Digg getting ready to launch, Digg Ads doing well, our sales force growing, our hiring ramping, and the company maturing well beyond its startup phase, I feel that now is the right time.

The entrepreneurial calling is strong, and I am ready to incubate some new business ideas over the next twelve months. As the economy exits a very deep recession, I believe that it is an excellent time for new companies to develop. Of course, I will continue to serve as an
adviser to Digg. In the interim, Kevin has agreed to step in as Chairman and CEO.

I’d like to thank Kevin, the Digg staff and the Digg community for their support, insight and, most of all, their loyalty in turning Digg into the force that it is today.


Update from Kevin:

I want to be the first to thank Jay for the last five years of amazing work. You’ve been a great friend and mentor, we wouldn’t be where we are today if it wasn’t for you.

While I’ll miss working with Jay day-to-day I am excited to be taking on the role of Chairman and acting CEO, driving Digg forward on our promise to enable social curation of the world’s content and the conversation around it. We’ve been super busy on the product side getting ready for the upcoming Digg redesign and delivering our mobile apps for the iPhone and Android.

Thank you very much for your on-going support of Digg, I’m truly excited about the next five years, big things coming!