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Valley Boys's Kevin Rose leads a new brat pack of young entrepreneurs

It was June 26, 4:45 a.m., and Digg founder Kevin Rose was slugging back tea and trying to keep his eyes open as he drove his Volkswagen Golf to Digg's headquarters above the offices of the SF Bay Guardian in Potrero Hill. This was the day Rose would test everything. Two years earlier, Rose had gambled on his idea to change newsgathering, letting the masses "dig up" the most interesting stories on the Web and vote them onto his online "front page" on Rose had given every last piece of himself to the project -- all his time, all his cash, and even his girlfriend, who fought with him after he poured his savings into Digg instead of a downpayment on a house. Today, Digg, Version 3, the one that would go beyond tech news to include politics, gossip, business, and videos, was going live. At 29, Rose was on his way either to a cool $60 million or to total failure.

As Rose sat in the middle of the office, managing a final countdown, a Puma cap yanked over his eyes, his posse of twenty- and thirty-something engineers sat at their desks with contingency plans and extra servers ready. They flipped the switch. Stories started trickling in. The pace picked up, and suddenly, it was a deluge. Digg staffers grew frenzied, screaming at one other to stay one step ahead of the traffic. By 4 p.m. on launch day, the site had signed up more than 13,000 new registered users, eight times the average number. Traffic was clocking in at four times the volume of the previous Monday. The news of Digg's launch was lighting up the blogosphere. An exhausted Rose collapsed for a snooze under his desk.