Ning Phasing out Free Sites - What Are Your Thoughts?

Today, Ning announced a monumental change in it's business plan. This is good news and bad news. For premium networks, it's probably good news; in that, it's what most premium networks thought they were investing in, in the first place. It will make the premium Ning Networks closer to white label, and likely more valuable assets. It is bad news and extremely sad for some free Ning Networks. Here's an excerpt from the announcement by Ning's CEO - Jason Rosenthal:


When I became CEO 30 days ago, I told you I would take a hard look at our business. This process has brought real clarity to what's working, what's not, and what we need to do now
to make Ning a big success.


My main conclusion is that we need to double down on our premium services
business. Our Premium Ning Networks like Friends or Enemies, Linkin
Park, Shred or Die, Pickens Plan, and tens of thousands of others both
drive 75% of our monthly US traffic, and those Network Creators need and
will pay for many more services and features from us.


So, we are going to change our strategy to
devote 100% of our resources to building the winning product to capture
this big opportunity. We will phase out our free service. Existing
free networks will have the opportunity to either convert to paying for
premium services, or transition off of Ning. We will judge ourselves by
our ability to enable and power Premium Ning Networks at huge scale.
And all of our product development capability will be devoted to making
paying Network Creators extremely happy.

Full Story


New Group: Alternative Solutions to Ning


Please offer and discuss possible solutions, for owners of free Ning Networks. And most of all, let's all offer encouragement to our fellow Ning Network Creators.


UPDATE FROM NING CEO: JASON ROSENTHAL:

ORIGINAL STORY HERE - - Ning Update: Rolling Out Full Details May 4th

Hi Everyone,


As many of you know, we made a decision yesterday to focus 100% of the company on enhancing the features and services we offer to paying Ning Creators. The tens of thousands of you who already use our paid
service represent over 75% of our traffic, and we’ve heard repeatedly
from you ways that we can deliver a killer service to help make your
Ning Network more effective. Some examples of things we are working on
that you’ve asked for include new APIs, a new mobile experience and new
advertising and revenue opportunities.


As part of this change, we’ll be phasing out our free service. On May 4, 2010, we will share with you all of the details of our new offering, including features and price points, through a series of blog
posts, emails, and conference calls. We recognize that there are many
active Ning Networks for teachers, small non-profits, and individuals
and it's our goal to have a set of product and pricing options that will
make sense for all of them. For Ning Creators using our free service who
choose to move to another service, we will off a migration path and
time to make that change. We will still continue to allow free trials
and test networks on the Ning Platform.


We look forward to talking to you further on May 4th.


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Comment by saveNaturefree on April 15, 2010 at 6:45pm
This is just a trick to get thousands of free networks signed up to paid networks. Ning are not going to take away your free ning social network. Customers are protected by law. If a business say something is free and change their mind later they have to pay the cost. It is called unconscionable conduct to take away something you advertised as free. The fines for this type of thing are huge.
Comment by JenSocial on April 15, 2010 at 6:25pm
This is good news for Educational sites:
Reply by John McDonald 22 minutes ago

Hi,

Thank you for all of your kind words for the Ning employees that were let go as part of this change. I also appreciate all of your comments, opinions and questions about the announcement. We will share detailed plans within 2 weeks.

I want to address one particular concern several of you have voiced about the impact of this change to educators using Ning Networks. We remain committed to this important group of Network Creators, and we understand your unique needs. We plan to address your concerns in our upcoming plan.

And please be considerate and respectful of other Network Creators as you continue to participate in this discussion!

Thanks,
John
Comment by GirlRiders on April 15, 2010 at 6:22pm
This is horrible news. We have all put our trust in Ning, we helped them become who they are. I will lose members by switching networks, and where do I go, who can I trust?
Comment by cat Lawford on April 15, 2010 at 6:18pm
creating one on grou.ps but not to replace my NING.... yet.
can any one PLEASE tell me how to preserve all the pages of our sites - is there a way? I am more upset about all the invaluable info getting lost if the fees are unreasonable and I choose to leave. It is too depressing to think about.
Comment by Happycamers on April 15, 2010 at 6:11pm
Good bye to my network. I am not hanging around. I will move over to proboards and facebook.
Comment by Scarlett Moon on April 15, 2010 at 6:11pm
I'm currently checking out socialgo too. They have a FREE service..and everything is similar..actually dare I say..a bit better..OUCH! Does that sting you Ning?
Comment by Leah on April 15, 2010 at 6:08pm
Wow, pretty cut throat! Thought with this economic crisis we were learning that to screw people over, screws us in the end too..., uh, Guess not. You know another company that did this? Sprout Builder. You could build a mini website widget and embed it anywhere, and any time you updated it all your widgets were updated across the web, it was fabulous! i learned how to and began using it as a beta tester. Well first they tried to get rid of the freebie accounts, but than you know what? After awhile they just got rid of everybody! Yup! All their premium paying customers, shut down! Now they want $3000 for the privilege of creating a viral widget with their site! I'm beginning to understand now, that companys that do things like this, Ning and Sprout builder for example, that are willing to cross the line and screw the beta testers who create them essentially, the first time, won't hesitate to do it again in the future. So unless you're a Walmart, all you network creators out there who are feeling a little smug and very safe right now, being a paid member and all, ah, maybe you're not as safe as you think, after all paying for It sure didn't make any difference to the premium content creators on Sprout Builder!
Sorry to sound so harsh, I'm a little.., okay VERY frustrated, having it happen to me twice now!
I've already looked at Wackwall and Webs as someone suggested earlier, and they actually look like that might have a little more going for them. But OMG! Day ruined thanks to Ning!
Comment by SPHP GLOBAL NETWORK on April 15, 2010 at 5:54pm
Considering the state of affairs, how about just having the actual contents of the subsequent replies reflected right within the email notice. It is already a waste of time to log into a host site that is about to delete the networks that are not and can not be in the position to shift from free hosting to the regular category. What has been inconsiderate is that the FREE hosting service was only used as a ploy in order to build up the membership base of NING.COM
Comment by JenSocial on April 15, 2010 at 5:50pm
Mystic Moons,
Your comment, "Mysticmoons pays for ... and is also paid into the Ning Top 100 Communities." has nothing to do with Ning.com the company and the platform. The TOP100 is a site I offered via the Ning Directory to help fellow Network Creators get more traffic. I do not work for Ning. I feel everyone's pain, and exactly why I started this blog to let everyone vent who wants to vent.

On what constitutes a premium network, Ning has not stated the specifics yet, so we don't know. If I hear, I'll sure post it on this site.
Best Regards,
Jen
Comment by Fantasyland "Admin." on April 15, 2010 at 5:50pm
It seems the new guy in charge wants to make waves. How quickly will he be replaced if the free sites all close? What about our themes? This is the ultimate insult (aside from putting people out of work, in this economy). So many of us have spent hours and hours learning to design themes for ning sites. We can't use them anywhere else.
Well I say, many of us came to ning from Yahoo 360 so we know how to move to a new place.

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