Ning stays free for educators, with restrictions

Free Ning groups now will be limited to 150 members.
Free Ning groups now will be limited to 150 members.

The social networking web site Ning, which many educators have used to establish online groups with similar professional interests, will remain free for educators despite moving to a fee-based model this summer, the site announced May 4. But some education technology experts believe Ning could see dwindling interest among teachers and college professors because of new limitations on group sizes and video and chat capabilities.

Ning, which has more than 46 million members and 300,000 social networks created by its contributors, unveiled its revamped pricing model last week, which includes a $2.95 monthly charge for Ning Mini, $19.95 for Ning Plus, and $49.95 a month for Ning Pro. The Ning Mini model will be available at no cost to educators. Student must be 13 or older to sign up for a Ning account, according to the company’s web site.

Ning’s new service will begin in July. The shift will mean 80 percent of Ning’s revenue will come from customers paying for one of the three options, the company announced. Jason Rosenthal, the company’s chief operating officer, wrote on Ning’s blog that basic services will remain free for education groups because a “major education company will be sponsoring Ning Mini Networks for educators in primary and secondary education.”…Read More

Educators hope Ning stays affordable

Educators will have 10 weeks to decide if they want to keep their content on Ning after tha company's May 4 announcement.
Educators will have 10 weeks to decide if they want to keep their content on Ning after the company's May 4 shift to a fee-based model.

Since Ning launched its social network that lets members create groups on any topic back in 2007, thousands of educators have used the online tool to connect with their peers across the globe. Now, the company says it soon will “phase out” its free service, forcing educators to find other alternatives or pay to keep their Ning networks intact.

Education technology experts said Ning risks alienating educators with its decision, especially at a time when school budgets are so tight. Ning, which had planned to use advertising revenue to support the site, announced April 16 that company officials would unveil a new business model on May 4 that would include “price points” for the previously free service.

While Ning’s basic service had been free, it also offered a range of paid options, including $5 a month for custom domains and $10 a month for extra bandwidth and storage capabilities.…Read More

Andreessen-founded Ning cuts staff, free service

Uh-oh. Just a month after Gina Bianchini, co-founder of build-a-social-network service Ning, departed the company, it’s cutting 40 percent of its staff and axing its free, ad-supported service, CNet reports. Bianchini had co-founded Ning with Valley legend Marc Andreessen, and it had raised $119 million in venture capital, including a whopping $60 million round in early 2008 that Andreessen famously characterized as a stockpile for the “nuclear winter” that would help get it through the economic recession. Jason Rosenthal, the Ning COO who took over as CEO from Bianchini, sent an eMail memo to company staffers on April 15 that somebody forwarded to industry blog TechCrunch. He explained that Ning will be focusing on premium networks–which come with additional features and are not ad-supported–because that’s where the company’s business successes have been, thus far. “We are going to change our strategy to devote 100 percent of our resources to building the winning product to capture this big opportunity,” Rosenthal’s memo explained after detailing the success of a number of its paid networks. “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.” The company’s staff reduction will take it from 167 to 98 employees…

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