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Thursday, April 15, 2010

Ning Nixes Free Service


Ning’s recently promoted CEO, Jason Rosenthal, announced today that Ning was cutting its staff as it phases out its advertiser supported service to focus exclusively on premium Ning networks. The news comes as a shock to Ning’s network of creators who have invested a great deal of time and effort into the network. Furthermore, the news impacts many independent content creators who use Ning’s network software as the hub for their content.

Rosenthal made the announcement to Ning employees, which, obviously, was quickly leaked on the Internet. Here is the relevant portion of Rosenthal’s email, the full email can be viewed here.

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.

In a subsequent memo, Rosenthal expounded stating that within the next 90 days, Ning would roll out a new API and new features for premium users. He further stated that the company would assist users in finding other opportunities with different companies. Exactly how Ning will accomplish this is unspecified. As of now, Ning does not have an easy export tool, which would allow users to transition to a similar service.


  1. whoa, this is sure to cause drama throughout the internet!!!

    any word on how long the phase out will be?

    advantage EQAL?

  2. We saw a lot of this in the wake of the dot com bubble.

    No fun. It does not really give Eqal any advantage since the do not currently have a free/advertiser supported option.

    At least we still have IRC and phpbb. They are old but probably some of the best social tools around.

  3. I think it is obvious what happened, they are positioning themselves to take on Umbrella.


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