Kevin Rose Biography

Business Leader, Entrepreneur(1977–)
Kevin Rose is an Internet entrepreneur, as well as the founder and CEO of Digg, a popular social news website.

Synopsis

Internet entrepreneur Kevin Rose was born February 21, 1977, in Las Vegas, Nevada. After dropping out of the University of Las Vegas, Rose began coding software and in 2004 launched Digg, a social news website, with just $1,200. In a few short years, Digg was a smash success—and its founder, a rock star. A shrewd investor, Rose has put money into the early launches of Twitter and Foursquare.

Early Years

Born Robert Kevin Rose on February 21, 1977 in Las Vegas, Nevada. A computer geek almost from the moment he could type, Rose got his start as a programmer at the age of 8 by banging away on the family's Commodore 64 computer.

Never one for schoolwork, his mother once took his keyboard as punishment for not taking his grades more seriously. "I drilled a hole in my desk and put a chain through it so she couldn't take it again," Rose said in a 2009 Reader's Digest profile.

At the age of 19, Rose's computer skills were so good that he earned a job at the Department of Energy's Nevada Test Site, which he did while attending the University of Las Vegas. But Rose's time at college was short. Feeling that a life in Silicon Valley better suited his life and goals, he dropped out of college his sophomore year to work as a programmer full-time.

His instincts paid off. Soon, Rose found himself making important connections with some of Silicon Valley's biggest players. Much it was done through an obscure cable show he hosted called The Screen Savers. Through it, Rose dissected tech news and trends and got to know people such as Apple computer co-founder Steve Wozniak.

As the story goes, Rose had finished another interview with Wozniak and had come home, jealous of the stories the Apple co-founder had about those early, pioneering days when Apple was just getting off the ground. Rose sat down in front of his computer that evening and began digging around for interesting news tidbits that hadn't crossed the radar screens of the major news outlets.

The process to unearth this stuff was messy and time consuming. And that got Rose thinking: He could create a service that did this automatically for users, one that tapped the site's community to post and rank content from bloggers and news sites. Those stories that appeared on the front page would represent the most popular ones of the day.

That, at its essence, is the foundation of Digg, which Rose launched in November 2004 with a $1,200 investment he pulled from his savings account.

Quick Success

By his own admission, Rose's goals for the new site were modest. "If this can pay my rent and I can chill in my apartment and drink my tea and have an awesome little office, that'd be more than I could ask for," he later explained.

But success came quickly. Within a few months, Digg was attracting a few thousand visitors a month, enough to gain ad traction and allow Rose to make it his full-time job. In less than a year, the site's monthly traffic had jumped to 200,000; Rose had a small staff working for him; and he had raised $2.8 million in venture capital. By 2009, it was one of the most heavily trafficked Web sites in the country.

Part of the charm is the site's randomness. Drawing from the interests of its visitors, the site brings together hard news and softer cultural pieces. It's not unusual to find a piece titled "Supreme Court to Hear Cases Involving Bad Advice on Plea Deals" right next to another with the headline "The Evolution of Katy Perry."

One of the more popular features of the site , a weekly show called Diggnation, features Rose himself. In it, Rose and a co-host peer into the latest tech and cultural news by looking at Digg's most popular stories.

The site and the show have not only made Rose rich (Digg's worth is by some estimates as much as $250 million), but also a rock star. A shrewd investor, he's dumped money into early versions of Twitter and Foursquare, and became a later stage investor in Facebook.

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