Glam Media has just acquired Ning, the build-your-own-social-network startup co-founded by Netscape creator Marc Andreessen.
Glam is best known for building Web properties and an ad network targeting women, and it says it now reaches more than 200 million monthly users. Last month, it announced plans to move aggressively into the mobile market. Now, CEO Samir Arora said the company is making a similar social push while taking advantage of Ning's existing products and audience.
"We made a decision that instead of building our own social platform, we looked at Ning, and after we did our due diligence, we said, 'Would you be interested in going after this together?'" Arora said.
Together, Ning and Glam say they can reach more than 240 million users. Publishers in the Glam network will have have access to Ning's social networking tools, while Glam will start running its brand ads along existing Ning properties. Arguing that LinkedIn created "Jobs 2.0" and Zynga offers "Games 2.0," Ning CEO Jason Rosenthal said the combined company would be the first one tackling "Social for Content 2.0."
At one time, Ning was one of the biggest names in the social networking landscape, thanks to Andreessen's cachet (he also founded Opsware, sits on the board of directors at Facebook, and runs the prominent venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz) and funding that valued the company at $750 million. Since then, its luster has faded somewhat after a 2009 restructuring that saw the elimination of Ning's free product and 40 percent of the company's workforce, a move that Rosenthal said led to a significant increase in paid subscriptions.
Ning was considering another round of funding, Arora said, but decided to accept Glam's offer instead. Arora added that he was impressed by Rosenthal's "remarkable" ability to shift the company's business model during the economic downturn.
Glam and Ning are not sharing the financial terms of the deal, but they did say that Ning will operate as a new business unit within Glam, with Rosenthal continuing at the company as executive vice president of social media and general manager of Ning. Andreessen will also join Glam's board of directors. (Citing "sources close to the deal," AllThingsDigital reports that the price was $200 million.)