Ning (website)

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Slogan Create your own social network for anything
Commercial? Yes
Type of site Social networking
Owner Marc Andreessen, Gina Bianchini
Created by Marc Andreessen, Gina Bianchini
Launched October 2005 [1]
Revenue US$10 million (2009 est.)[2]
Current status Online

Ning is an online platform for people to create their own social networks,[3] launched in October 2005.[1] Ning was co-founded by Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini. Ning is Andreessen's third company (after Netscape and Opsware). The word "Ning" is Chinese for "peace" (simplified Chinese: ; traditional Chinese: ; pinyin: níng), as explained by Gina Bianchini on the company blog.[4] Quantcast estimates Ning has 7.4 million monthly unique U.S. visitors.[5]


[edit] History

Ning started development in October 2004 and launched its platform publicly in October 2005.[6] Ning was initially funded internally by Bianchini, Andreessen and angel investors. In July 2007, Ning raised US$44 million in venture capital, led by Legg Mason.[7] In March 2008, the company also announced it had raised an additional US$60 million in capital, led by an undisclosed set of investors.[8]

On April 15, 2010, CEO Jason Rosenthal announced changes at Ning. The free service would be suspended and of the current 167 employees, only 98 would remain. Current users of the free service had the option to either upgrade to a paid account or transition their content from Ning.[9]

Ning is currently located in downtown Palo Alto, California.

[edit] Features

Ning competes with social sites like MySpace, Facebook and Bebo by appealing to people who want to create their own social networks around specific interests with their own visual design, choice of features and member data.[10] The central feature of Ning is that anyone can create their own social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific membership bases.

At its launch, Ning was a free-form platform for the development and hosting of open-source "social applications."[6] The source code for Ning applications was available to users,[11] and the service made it easy for anyone to fork a Ning application, modify its PHP code and run it as their own. Applications included photo albums, blogging software, and many for sharing business reviews.[12] In late September 2006, Ning narrowed its focus to offering a group website, a photos website, and a videos website for people to copy and use for any purpose. These three templates were later superseded by a single customizable application aimed at enabling anyone to easily create their own social network. However, Ning does allow developers to have some source level control of their social networks, enabling them to change features and underlying logic.

Feature modification was temporarily disabled on October 21, 2008.[13] The company will replace full source control with the ability to bring in new features or change the logic of existing features via OpenSocial and a set of new APIs relaunched in early 2009.[14]

Ning formerly had both free and paid options; it switched to three levels of paid service in April 2010.[15] Each pay level allows for different degrees of features, viral tools, customization, and customer support.

The social networks running on Ning's service are programmed with PHP and the platform itself is built in Java.[16]

In November 2008, Ning announced a partnership with Scripts4Ning, integrating the developer's products directly into Ning and offering them for free.[17]

Ning network administrators can select from options that govern various levels of viewability, privacy and membership.

Ning added an iPhone interface in March 2009,[18] then made networks more compatible with mobile phones in August 2009.[19]

[edit] Controversies

Screenshot of the Ning's email on removing free networks
Ning's email on removing free networks

[edit] Banning of third-party provider

In August 2008, Ning removed Widget Laboratory (the largest third party provider of plugin enhancements to Ning at the time) from Ning, preventing use of any of their tools across Ning networks. This dispute was hotly debated in response to an article in TechCrunch.[20]

[edit] Removal of networks with pornography

In December 2008, Ning announced that it would no longer host networks that featured pornography and similar content.[21] Network owners were given just over a month to move their pornographic content to another provider. The reasons cited for removing pornographic networks from the platform were that they did not cover the costs of providing them and that they created a disproportionate amount of DMCA takedown notices for copyright infringing material.

[edit] Removal of search function

In November 2009, the search feature of Ning was removed; this change significantly limited the ability to find existing Ning networks.[22] The search function was restored on March 29, 2010.[23][24]

[edit] Removal of free networks

Many web services were proclaiming that Ning was closing down all free networks, and several were actively pursuing these creators.[25] When Creators looked for confirmation on the Creators Network, there was little to no information, canned responses to their questions, and promises of more information in two weeks. Several Ning Employees were also gone with this "notice", although it's unclear whether that is due to layoffs or choice.[citation needed] Creators never received a formal notice, although Mr. Rosenthal did eventually post a re-statement of the original post more than 24 hours after the fact.[26]

On May 4, 2010, Ning Network sent an official email to all members:

We want to provide a new level of innovation to Network Creators — and build all the valuable features Network Creators have asked us to. To get there, we need to focus 100% on paid Ning Networks. This phasing out of free services won’t happen until July, so you’ll have plenty of time to weigh your options. We’ll do our best to provide you with a migration path if you don’t wish to continue with Ning, but we’d love to have you come along for all of the exciting future developments.[citation needed]

Email notifications to ning network customers proclaimed that free .ning networks would expire totally at midnight UTC−08:00 on Friday August 20, unless the customer decided to choose a paid plan.

[edit] See also

[edit] References

  1. ^ a b Ok, I am excited by Gina Bianchini, Ning BLog, October 3, 2005
  2. ^ [1]
  3. ^ Social Graph-iti, The Economist, Oct 18, 2007
  4. ^ The Story Behind the Ning Name, by Gina Bianchini, Ning Blog, April 11, 2007
  5. ^
  6. ^ a b Andreessen adds some Ning to the Web, by Martin LaMonica, CNET news, Oct 6, 2005
  7. ^ Ning news: new investment round, by Marc Andreesen,, Jul 9, 2007
  8. ^ Ning news: Series D investment round, by Marc Andreessen, April 18, 2008
  9. ^ TechCrunch - Ning’s Bubble Bursts: No More Free Networks, Cuts 40% Of Staff
  10. ^ Web pioneer touts Ning Inc. as easy to use social network, by Michael Liedtke, Rocky Mountain News, Mar 5, 2007
  11. ^ Platform Wars. Ning
  12. ^ Badges badges badges
  13. ^ The Ning Platform: A Few Updates, Gina Bianchini, October 21, 2008
  14. ^ Ning’s Social Networks Get Their Own App Platform
  15. ^ Ning Fails at Free Social Networking, Eliot Van Buskirk, April 16, 2010
  16. ^ Andreessen: PHP succeeding where Java isn't, by Stephen Shankland, CNET News, Oct 19, 2005
  17. ^ A Little Company News…, Jason Rosenthal on November 20, 2008
  18. ^ Keep up with your social network from your iPhone…, Evan Goldin on November 20, 2008
  19. ^ (Update) Tonight’s release is live!…, Evan Goldin on November 20, 2008
  20. ^ Kincaid, Jason (2008-08-22). "Ning Shuts Down Premium Developor WidgetLaboratory". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2009-04-06. 
  21. ^ Bianchini, Gina (2008-12-01). "The End of the Red Light District". Ning Blog. Retrieved 2009-05-24. 
  22. ^ Changes to – a Rationale
  23. ^ The Return of Search on
  24. ^ Current Progress on Ning Search
  25. ^ Webs Welcomes Ning Users With Open Arms and Free Accounts
  26. ^ Ning Update: Rolling Out Full Details May 4th

[edit] External links

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