In Defense of Ning
Techcrunch released an article today showcasing the next steps for Ning as a company. Needlessto say, the news is bad. Ning is laying off employees and moving to a pay model, shutting down its free services. For more here is the article by Jason Kincaid.
Ning has become an amazing resource for me as an educator. The ability to create a social network designed around my composition class has spoiled me quite a bit. I honestly think I would pay to use the service; it is that convenient.
All things considered though, Ning as a company would grow in remarkable ways if it stayed free and marketed itself more as an educational tool. Hell it should take a page from the Google play book and approach educational institutions directly and market itself from there. Many critics have attacked Ning’s business model based on its free nature, but I will happily say that the site has been a dream for me and my fellow instructors at Georgia Southern.
Mr. Rosenthal, you do not have to take this drastic a step because a while untapped market lays at your finger tips. You just haven’t noticed it. I will try to secure grant money to continue using your site, but if you move behind a pay wall, I will be much more inclined to try and make Google groups and Orkut supplement your past services. I really don’t want to blow up my gmail inbox like that, but I don’t make enough money to justify the subscription.
My university does, and has already paid Google handsomely for customized apps. Hell, if you don’t jump on this, Google will probably just buy your company and make the money you were too stupid to earn yourself.
Your company is quite good, but this move will potentially kill everything you have worked for. It is no skin off of my back either, cause someone like Google will just come along and offer something similar (if not better). Do the smart thing and explore the market you are most suited for.