Ning – The Start Up Story Of Mark Andreessen and Gina Bianchini

Social networking has been exploding over the last several years. This is how simple ideas like Facebook and Twitter were transformed into multi-billion companies, used by people from all around the world. Many people noticed their incredible success and followed the social trend. Some of them managed to gain popularity even after the big names has already conquered the market. They focused on certain niches like pictures sharing, video sharing etc. Even some teenage entrepreneurs managed to grasp a piece of the tasty social pie. One of them, Ashley Qualls was only 14 years old, when she started her social site. Her story is amazing, you can check it out.

Many different ideas for monetizing the social trend has appeared, and many more are still to come. This article is about another great social business The site is the world’s largest SaaS (software as a service) social platform, which allows the ordinary Internet user to create his/her own social community. Around 2 million customers have taken advantage of Ning’s services up to date and their number is rising. It’s a paid service, but you can create and customize your new social site in a matter of hours. They provide you with all the needed tools and you can use your own domain name too.

The site

This really innovative idea came to Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini, the founders of the site. Ning was started back in 2004 and was publicly launched the next year – 2005. Its name comes from Chinese and means ‘peace’. It was initially funded by some angel investors. This was the time when MySpace was the social king and Facebook was just about to be founded. The social explosive has just received ignition and there was a lot of room for growing. This is how the company arranged $44 million in venture funding in 2007 and another $60 million on 2008.

But the great success of Facebook was something that was getting more and more dangerous for the company. Most of the people didn’t want to create their own social network from scratch, they were happier making simply a Facebook page, which was easier and faster. They didn’t want to attract all of their fans, but they used the millions of already registered Facebook users instead. Ning offered more opportunities, but it was paid and FB was free. These were some of the reasons, which made the business model of Ning not that explosive. However, Ning has become a great success after all. Not as big and as popular as the leaders, but still one of the winners of the social game (which is not finished yet 😉 ).

Today Ning hasn’t stopped expanding. The site is in the top 500 site is the world and its yearly revenue is more than 30 million. Recently it was acquired by Glam Media – one of the top Internet companies in the US. May be it hasn’t had a very successful business model as planned, but its a really innovative business idea and this is what helped the site to survive over the years.

Here is an example of social network using Ning: It is actually a very popular community for people with diabetes.