Full disclosure: I've been in Armenia for the last 3 months and have no idea what's going on internally at digg - the following is wild speculation. I can, however, tell you all about how a Kiva Fellowship works </shamelessplug>.
It's been a while since you cleverly debuted digg on ScreenSavers on that "Slashdot Killers" segment.
Funded by Y Combinator, Steve Huffman and I started work on reddit in June 2005, which we launched a month later. A month after that, we learned about digg and realized this was going to be an interesting new space -- we had some catching up to do.
Remember those great days? It was long before Facebook was confusing people with awkward privacy settings, before Twitter existed, and even pre-dating the "social media" industry -- back when "social media gurus" were simply called "tools."
You built a remarkably popular website with an adoring fanbase most companies can only dream of. Diggnation was a brilliant decision and paved the way for Revision3, which doesn't get half of the press it deserves. In short: you were in the zone.
And we got lucky, frankly. We sold to Condé Nast in 2006, which stayed hands off, let the site keep growing, and even encouraged us to open source -- the site has grown to over 1/2 million unique visitors a day. And all of that is run by only 4 awesomesauce developers (edit: and one fantastic community manager!); I think the math comes out to 1 dev for every 2 million monthly uniques.
You chose to grow with venture capital and you've no doubt (I hope) taken some money off the table in your Series C round.
I say this because this new version of digg reeks of VC meddling. It's cobbling together features from more popular sites and departing from the core of digg, which was to "give the power back to the people."
Those are your words from that aforementioned 2004 video segment.
Now what matters is how many followers & influence a user has and how many followers & influence they've got.
Where have we heard this before: Twitter? Facebook? GoogleBuzz?
Kevin, you absolutely deserve all the credit for starting the movement -- fascinating things happen when online communities can efficiently share content. Whales get silly names and we can expose the tragedies our fellow man endures faster than ever before.
It's a damned shame to see digg just re-implementing features from other websites.
But I've got a strong feeling it's not you making these decisions anymore; and to see your baby abused like this must be awful.
This really should've been called "an open letter to digg's VCs" (but what kind of linkbait would that be?) because they really ought to give the power back to the founder.
All the best,
Although Steve Huffman & I founded reddit.com, we've both since moved on. In case you're curious about what we're doing now, I'm working on breadpig and Steve is getting a pilot's license while enjoying married life (sorry ladies).