The online company is saying goodbye to consumers and hello to big (paying) companies.
At a time when the hottest tech giants (Apple (AAPL)) and startups (Zynga) are focused on serving consumers, social-media company Ning is going in the opposite direction: It's largely abandoning individuals in favor of corporate customers such as publishing houses and nonprofit organizations. Even more surprising: The company is charging money for a service it once gave away free, sort of the tech equivalent of putting the toothpaste back in the tube.
Ning CEO Jason Rosenthal says the strategic change, instituted about nine months ago, is paying off. Last summer the Palo Alto-based company had just 17,000 paying customers. Today, more than 100,000 customers (from Martha Stewart Living Omnimedia (MSO) to rock band Linkin Park) pay anywhere from $3 to $50 per month to use Ning's software, which lets them launch and run their own mini-Facebooks. Revenue is up 400% year over year, and Ning expects to be in the black for the first time in the first quarter of next year. More
A brief history of social technology, and what it means to you
By Gina Bianchini, CEO and co-founder, Ning
At the outset of online social networking, around, say, 2002, early users had to wedge their personalities into static, cookie-cutter profile pages -- it was the price we all paid for the convenience of this new and powerful social tool. How times have changed: Instead of altering yourself to fit the MOREJul 20, 2009 8:00 AM ET
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