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Wah Glossary

Ning is an online platform for users to create their own social websites and social networks[1], launched in October 2005. Ning was co-founded by Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini. Ning is Andreessen’s third startup (after Netscape and Opsware), and gets much of its notability from Andreessen’s successes with those companies.[2][3]



Ning hopes to compete with large social sites like MySpace and Facebook, by appealing to users who want to create networks around specific interests or have limited technical skills.[4] The unique feature of Ning is that anyone can create their own custom social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific audiences. At its launch, Ning offered several simple base websites developed internally and by members of a closed beta. In late September of 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. Later, these three templates were superseded by a single customizable template aimed at allowing non-developers to more easily customize their copy of the social website. However, Ning does allow developers to have some source level control of their social networks, enabling them to change features and underlying logic.

Ning has announced support for the OpenSocial API that Google announced in late 2007. Developers will be able to run OpenSocial gadgets within their networks.[5]

The websites running on its service are built in standard PHP and the platform itself is built in Java.[6]

Business Model

Currently, Ning has two primary business models. One allows users to create a network for free, in exchange for the network hosting ads that Ning supplies. The other, their “Ning for Business” option, offers users a network where they control the ad content (or lack thereof), in exchange for a monthly fee. A few other premium services such as extra storage and bandwidth and non-Ning URLs are also available for additional monthly fees.

According to TechCrunch, the uptake of Ning hasn’t been as great as it could be. It requires a knowledge of web programming, lacks the scalability of an open API, and can only be hosted on Ning’s servers.[7] After hitting 100,000 social networks, TechCrunch revised its forecast[8]; and Ning has been called “fast-growing”.[1]

The Company

The company started as a stealth startup named ‘24 Hour Laundry’ with CEO Gina Bianchini and 14 employees. The name changed to Ning at launch in October 2005.[9] Ning was initially funded internally by Andreessen and angel investors. In July, 2007, Ning raised $44 million USD in venture capital, led by Legg Mason.[10]

Ning is located in Palo Alto, California, coincidentally across the street from competitor Facebook.[1]

External links

  • Ning
  • Ning Blog
  • Interview with Gina Bianchini co-founder of Ning
  • Audio interview with Marc Andreessen on Ning, social networking, and education (July 2007)
  • Audio interview with Gina Bianchini on Ning (April 2007)


  1. ^ a b c Social Graph-iti, The Economist, Oct 18, 2007
  2. ^ Evaluating Tech Startups: The Risks And Rewards, by John Foley, InformationWeek, Nov 10, 2007.
  3. ^ Second acts: Seven tech titans today, by George Jones, Computerworld, Dec 3, 2007
  4. ^ Web pioneer touts Ning Inc. as easy to use social network, by Michael Liedtke, Rocky Mountain News, Mar 5, 2007
  5. ^ The high-stakes fight for your friends, by Josh Quittner and Jessi Hempel, Fortune, Nov 22, 2007
  6. ^ Andreessen: PHP succeeding where Java isn’t, by Stephen Shankland, CNET News, Oct 19, 2005
  7. ^ Ning - R.I.P.?, by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, Jan 20, 2006
  8. ^ Ning Milestone: 100k Social Networks, by Michael Arrington, TechCrunch, Sep 23, 2007
  9. ^ Andreessen adds some Ning to the Web, by Martin LaMonica, CNET news, Oct 6, 2005
  10. ^ Ning news: new investment round

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