News in Short: Digg loses and slashes staff (big time); Facebook/Groupon/Zynga investor readies for IPO

by Knowlton Thomas

nis readies for big IPO Group is a Russia-based company that has a 2.4 percent stake in Facebook ($30B+ valuation), 1.5 percent in Zynga ($100M+ annual revenue), and 5 percent in Groupon (multi-billion dollar valuation, rapidly growing).

These big-time, and likely very wise, investments make's forthcoming IPO worth a mention. It plans to make its shares worth about $25 each, which would render its valuation in and around $5.5 billion.

The company's suite of services includes e-mail, social networking, and online games.

Digg slashes staff

Digg lost its "chief revenue officer," Chas Edwards, today.

At the same time, the company is axing 25 employees - more than 37% of Digg’s total staff.

Digg boasts around $15 million in annual revenue currently, but is not profitable (in fact, in the red), and has been a notable decline for several months, since its inception of the infamous "v4" interface was first introduced.

This is cut from an official email sent by CEO Matt Williams to his staff:

As I mentioned in one of our first all-hands meetings, another top priority was to take a hard look at the entire business, across product, sales, and operations. Through the time I have spent with each of you, I’ve been impressed by the commitment and enthusiasm you’ve shown. I’ve also learned a great deal about what is working well at Digg, and what is broken.

Many things are working well. The team is listening and acting quickly on the feedback from our passionate community. We’ve been able to deliver nimbly on the new platform, with over 100 bug and feature releases to the web site in the past two months. Our Diggable ads product has seen a notable increase in use by advertisers and clicks by users.

Unfortunately, to reach our goals, we have to take some difficult steps. The fact is our business has a burn rate that is too high. We must significantly cut our expenses to achieve profitability in 2011. We’ve considered all of the possible options for reduction, from salaries to fixed costs. The result is that, in addition to lowering many of our operational costs, I’ve made the decision to downsize our staff from 67 to 42 people.

Tomorrow, we’ll go forward with a new strategy for Digg.

Chicago, Illinois, United States

Launched in November 2008, Groupon features a daily deal on the best stuff to do, see, eat, and buy in a variety of cities across the United States. We have about 200 wonderful people working in our Chicago office (a handful of whom you can see to your right), along with a smattering of people in Groupon's other cities. Our company philosophy is pretty simple: we treat our customers the way we... more

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Facebook's mission is to give people the power to share and make the world more open and connected. Millions of people use Facebook everyday to keep up with friends, upload an unlimited number of photos, share links and videos, and learn more about the people they meet. more

Toronto, Ontario, Canada

Zynga is the world’s largest social game developer. More than 215 million monthly active users play its games. Zynga’s games include FarmVille, Treasure Isle, Zynga Poker, Mafia Wars, YoVille, Café World, FishVille, PetVille and FrontierVille. Zynga games are available on Facebook, MySpace and the iPhone. Through, Zynga players have raised more than $3 million for world social causes.... more

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Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton Thomas

Knowlton is the managing editor of Techvibes and author of Tempest Bound. Based in Vancouver, Knowlton has been published in national publications and has also appeared on television and radio. Previously he was an editor for New Westminster weekly The Other Press and served on its board of directors. When not working, Knowlton enjoys hiking, tennis, and martial arts. more

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