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Ning is an online platform for people to create their own social networks, launched in October 2005. Ning was co-founded by Marc Andreessen and Gina Bianchini. Ning is Andreessen's third company (after Netscape and Opsware).

The word "Ning" is Chinese for "peace" ( ), as explained by Gina Bianchini on the company blog.


Ning started development in October 2004 and launched its platform publicly in October 2005. Ning was initially funded internally by Bianchini, Andreessen and angel investors. In July 2007, Ning raised US$44 million in venture capital, led by Legg Mason. In March 2008, the company also announced it had raised an additional US$60 million in capital, led by an undisclosed set of investors.

Ning is located in downtown Palo Altomarker, Californiamarker.


Ning competes with social sites like MySpace and Facebook by appealing to people who want to create their own social networks around specific interests with their own visual design, choice of features and member data. The unique feature of Ning is that anyone can create their own social network for a particular topic or need, catering to specific membership bases. At its launch, Ning offered several simple base websites developed internally and by members of a closed beta. In late September 2006, Ning narrowed its focus to offering a group website, a photos website, and a videos website for people to copy and use for any purpose. These three templates were later superseded by a single customizable application aimed at enabling anyone to easily create their own social network. However, Ning does allow developers to have some source level control of their social networks, enabling them to change features and underlying logic.

Feature modification was temporarily disabled on October 21, 2008. The company will replace full source control with the ability to bring in new features or change the logic of existing features via OpenSocial and a set of new APIs to be relaunched in early 2009.

Ning has both free and paid options. When someone creates a social network on Ning, it is free by default and runs ads that Ning controls. If the person creating the social network chooses, they can pay to control the ads (or lack thereof), in exchange for a monthly fee. A few other premium services such as extra storage and bandwidth and non-Ning URLs are also available for additional monthly fees.

Ning has also been used by educators in S-GI to conduct a book study on Curriculum Mapping. Many educators are using Ning for developing educational resources.

Ning launched support for OpenSocial APIs that Google announced in the summer of 2008. Developers will be able to run OpenSocial gadgets within their networks.

The social networks running on Ning's service are programmed with PHP and the platform itself is built in Java.

In November 2008, Ning announced a partnership with Scripts4Ning, integrating the developer's products directly into Ning and offering them for free.

Ning network administrators can select from options that govern various levels of viewability and membership. Ning networks are subject to COPPA (Children's Online Privacy Protection Act) regulations.


Banning of third-party provider

In August 2008, Ning removed Widget Laboratory (the largest third party provider of plugin enhancements to Ning at the time) from Ning, preventing use of any of their tools across Ning networks. This dispute was hotly debated in response to an article in TechCrunch.

Removal of adult networks

In December 2008, Ning announced that it would no longer host adult networks. Adult network owners were given just over a month to move their adult content to another provider. The reasons cited for removing adult networks from the platform were that they did not cover the costs of providing them and that they created a disproportionate amount of DMCA takedown notices for copyright infringing material.

See also


  1. Social Graph-iti, The Economist, Oct 18, 2007
  2. Ok, I am excited by Gina Bianchini, Ning BLog, October 3, 2005
  3. The Story Behind the Ning Name, by Gina Bianchini, Ning Blog, April 11, 2007
  4. Andreessen adds some Ning to the Web, by Martin LaMonica, CNET news, Oct 6, 2005
  5. Ning news: new investment round, by Marc Andreesen,, Jul 9, 2007
  6. Ning news: Series D investment round, by Marc Andreessen, April 18, 2008
  7. Web pioneer touts Ning Inc. as easy to use social network, by Michael Liedtke, Rocky Mountain News, Mar 5, 2007
  8. The Ning Platform: A Few Updates, Gina Bianchini, October 21, 2008
  9. The Next Three Months, Gina Bianchini, January 5, 2009
  10. The high-stakes fight for your friends, by Josh Quittner and Jessi Hempel, Fortune, Nov 22, 2007
  11. Andreessen: PHP succeeding where Java isn't, by Stephen Shankland, CNET News, Oct 19, 2005
  12. A Little Company News…, Jason Rosenthal on November 20, 2008

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