Ning Collapses, No Longer Free

By Nick O'Neill Comment

Ning LogoTalk about a company falling apart. After Ning’s CEO Gina Bianchini left the company, she was replaced by COO Jason Rosenthal. Jason has some big plans ahead including cutting the staff by 40 percent and removing the free version of the site. The reason? While it wasn’t stated, we can pretty much guarantee that Facebook Pages now owns the free community market and Ning is now putting all the company’s efforts into the free version.

It’s a pretty big hit for the company, but all the writing was on the wall despite Bianchini suggesting the company wasn’t competition to Facebook. It’s a big loss for the company which had open-sourced the platform completely, and had a free community platform which it had granted to anybody that was interested.

The timing is also interesting as Facebook is expected to formerly announced the details of their Open Graph API next week, which I previously described as becoming the abstracted community platform. Ning was probably the best known free web community platform, and now the golden days are gone. Here’s the key part of the memo from Jason Rosenthal that was leaked to Techcrunch:

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.

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