Ning Is Dead; Well Not Quite…

Ning is a social media site where people can create groups and invite people in to talk about tons of different topics. Of course, just because something seems like a good idea doesn’t mean it will work, and I wrote about my disappointment in Ning back in January after being a part of it for what I consider a long time.

This weekend is was announced that Ning will no longer be free, at least for people who create groups, and probably for people who still want to participate with them. I say “probably” because Ning hasn’t announced yet how they’re going to do things. What they did say is that 75% of their users are already paying for the service in some fashion, so they’re just consolidating the other 25%.

Based on comments I’ve seen on both their blog and other forums, that 75% figure seems to be a great exaggeration. Not only that, but they’re announcing these changes at the same time that they’re cutting staff. All of this comes with the new CEO of Ning, Jason Rosenthal, and was pretty much outed by an employee through a letter Rosenthal sent to all of them. Seems they don’t much like it either, obviously. I read a copy of the letter on the Ning site Property Tribes, but since I’m expecting it to not be there all that much longer, since this guy is a VP of the company and, by posting the letter could have potentially messed up his employment there, here’s a copy of the letter, which is all over the place by now:

Team,

When I became CEO 30 days ago, I told you I would take a hard look at our business. This process has brought real clarity to what’s working, what’s not, and what we need to do now to make Ning a big success.

My main conclusion is that we need to double down on our premium services business. Our Premium Ning Networks like Friends or Enemies, Linkin Park, Shred or Die, Pickens Plan, and tens of thousands of others both drive 75% of our monthly US traffic, and those Network Creators need and will pay for many more services and features from us.

So, we are going to change our strategy to devote 100% of our resources to building the winning product to capture this big opportunity. We will phase out our free service. Existing free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for premium services, or transition off of Ning. We will judge ourselves by our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale. And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making paying Network Creators extremely happy.

As a consequence of this change, I have also made the very tough decision to reduce the size of our team from 167 people to 98 people. As hard as this is to do, I am confident that this is the right decision for our company, our business, and our customers. Marc and I will work diligently with everyone affected by this to help them find great opportunities at other companies.

I’ve never seen a more talented and devoted team, and it has been my privilege to get to know and work with each and every one of you over the last 18 months.

We’ll use today to say goodbye to our friends and teammates who will be leaving the company. Tomorrow, I will take you through, in detail, our plans for the next three months and our new focus.

Thanks,
Jason Rosenthal

Doesn’t sound good to me. I can’t even say “good riddance”, since I cared little for it anyway. Your thoughts?

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Disappointed In Ning

Back in 2008, I wrote a post based on a complaint an acquaintance of mine had with LinkedIn. At that time, he was very active on LinkedIn, and he’d had enough of some of the bureaucratic stuff he was putting up with after all the time and energy he’d put into the group, for free no less.

At the time he hadn’t decided where he was going to go, but he eventually ended up on Ning. Ning allows people to create their own social or business communities and networks or join other communities already established.

Truthfully, when you first go there it doesn’t look like much. I don’t even know how you’d go about finding communities you’d want to join. In my case, I was invited to join his community, which I did because I had belonged to his community on both LinkedIn and on YahooGroups, which we all know is gone now. He started with one group within his community, then expanded it into many areas. He also got a lot of people to join, which shows how good he is as a networker.

Over time, I’ve come to realize that I just don’t get Ning at all. For all the things my friend has tried to do, there’s almost never been any real conversation that’s taken place. I’ve tried starting topics, only to have them die upon arrival. Frankly, I had hoped that it might be the thing to take the place of Ryze, which seemed to be in decline, but I can’t honestly say it’s done that for me. I’ve become more disenchanted with the one or two line messages that pop up from time to time, often seeming to be hawking some event or product rather than attempting to create a community of conversation.

Yeah, I know, it almost sounds like some of the rants against Facebook here and there, but at least Facebook is entertaining, if one wishes to be entertained. And Facebook is really easy to use; I just think that Ning is too minimalistic in some ways to be really viable for the masses. Also, what is the real purpose of Ning? Is it a business networking site, a social networking site… I don’t really know.

So, I’ve gone in and left every group I was a part of. I didn’t cancel my account, and I’m not sure why I haven’t canceled my account. Maybe I’m still hoping that someone or something will spark an interest and a real community that I can be a part of. It’s not going to be me, since I have my blogs and other outlets to take care of. I guess we’ll see where it all goes.

Anyone else have thoughts about Ning they’d like to share?

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