The excitement around Google's reported hiring of Kevin Rose, the founder of Digg and mobile app "lab" Milk, ought to come a disclaimer. Even though Rose once graced the cover of BusinessWeek under the cover line "How This Kid Made $60 Million in 18 Months" and was anointed the leader of "a new brat pack of Silicon Valley entrepreneurs," the 35-year-old California native has a spotty track record. For at least a year, people have been saying that Digg, the project that made Rose geek famous, is dead. And Milk has only launched one app, Oink, which failed; they shut it down on Wednesday after it had been out for less than five months.
On the other hand and as the BusinessWeek cover photo shows, Rose is good at building buzz. He's also a pretty savvy investor, having latched on to companies like Twitter and Path while both companies were still quite new. And he talks the talk. "We've been upfront with investors that the lab's companies are going after big ideas, not launching continuous small projects," Rose told TechCrunch when Milk launched. "There is so much opportunity to disrupt old media and old business."
Whatever his disruptive plans were, Rose will be taking them to Google, according to AllThingsD's Liz Gannes. "Google is not outright buying or 'acqhiring' Milk, the sources explicitly said, but Rose and some others from the company have been hired... It's not clear what will happen to Milk after Rose joins Google."
Whether it's Milk or some other idea he's been cooking up, what Rose will certainly bring to Google is (arguably) his biggest and most successful release: Kevin Rose. Wherever Google slots him in its org chart— Google Ventures? The Google News desk? The (not so) super top secret Google X bungalow?—he'll bring his reputation for savviness. For a company that's starting to look bloated and outdated, that's worth a lot. They might be losing market share in their advertising business, but spotting the next Facebook early could easily erase those losses and reclaim some of their caché. Caché, by the way, is easy to buy.