Marc Andreessen's Ning Raises Huge Round of Funding

Posted by: Rob Hof on July 09, 2007

Mike Arrington had the rumor first, and now Marc Andreessen has confirmed it: Ning, the mostly Andreessen-funded provider of services that let you create your own social-networking site, has raised a big round of $44 million, led by Legg Mason. Andreessen’s calling it a series C, though I don’t know how much he and his angels have put in.

As Mike says, things must be going quite well since Ning’s relaunch last February. I’m sure the funding has been in the works for some time, but I wonder if the incredible rise of Facebook, especially since a few weeks ago when it opened up its service to outside software developers, spurred Ning into closing the funding. They’re not directly competitive, I guess, but given that most people are likely to have only two or three main online social networking services, and it’s pretty easy to form your own relatively private network on Facebook, I think Ning will need to get some more momentum real fast. With that kind of money to spend on new features and “platform evangelism,” as Andresseen puts it, it may still be a contest.

Update: Marc rightly points out in the comments below that Facebook is a single social network, while Ning helps you create your own. And it does seem like Ning is getting traction with a service that I can attest is easy to use. However, people have limited time, and it’s hard for me to see most people using more than a few social networks at a time. So it still seems to me that people are going to make choices about how much time they’ll spend on MySpace or Facebook or one or more of their Ning networks, which all share some similar functions for the people using them.

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Reader Comments

Marc Andreessen

July 9, 2007 09:10 PM

Hi Rob -- thanks for the post -- everything you say makes sense up to and including "they're not directly competitive, I guess" but not after that :-).

Ning is a very different kind of service than Facebook -- Facebook is a giant single social network, whereas Ning lets you create your own social network (which can be any size, on any topic, have any set of features you want, is completely programmable, and can be public or private).

We believe we are entering a world of millions of social networks, just like we are currently in a world of millions of web sites.

To that point, there are over 73,000 user-created social networks on Ning today and that number is growing fast.

All the best,
Marc

Julius Alba

July 10, 2007 11:47 AM

There has to be some level of productivity factor in order for social networking platforms to succeed. Does it solve a business problem? Does it provide a solution to a customer's need? 73,000 user created social networks is just a number. Ultimately, these user generated social networks will have to provide unique services, content and features in order to attract, retain users and generate revenue.

Garth Hall

July 12, 2007 06:51 AM

NING is not just targeting social groups & small organizations. filmcommunity.com is the social network for film & filmmaking. We're building our network on the NING platform. We were initially attracted to NING because of Marc Andreessen. We felt that if we were going to attach ourselves to a platform and build from it, then his was the company to do it with.

The fact that NING has just attracted funding which I believe exceeds Facebook's to date, shows that others with far deeper pockets than us have similar faith in his long term ability to deliver what many others haven't even thought of yet.

filmcommunity.com is intent upon becoming the premier network for filmmakers and film industry professionals and we are totally confident that we can achieve this built on the NING platform. If and when the time comes for us to jump off and go our own way, NING enables that to happen.
Open and transparent, just the way we like it!

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