Posted by: Rob Hof on July 9, 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.