Wednesday, February 28, 2007

Ning, the social network from Andreessen

Way back in October 2005, Ning launched with an intent to let anyone create social networks without programming skills, for free.

Ning is backed by Marc Andreessen, the 'wunderkind' of the Internet bubble generation and has Gina Bianchini as CEO.

After an several kickings from TechCrunch they at last appear to have ironed out the usabilty issues that got them the earlier bad press with Ning version 2, released on 27th Feb '07.

It was good to see Andreessen and Bianchini interacting with every pertinent comment asked on TechCrunch (161 so far) and being so open. Andreessen was happy to talk about what was happening under the hood and said amongst much other detailed answering that Ning was 90% built in Java. He stresses that Ning is designed to let people customise any aspect of their social network either in the Ning environment or outside using Ning's API's.

Scalablity is often an issue when apps get the TechCrunch spike and aim to go mainstream. Despite a few instances of recently being swamped the concensus is that Ning is coping well and the majority of the feedback is positive.

In my experience it took less than 20 minutes to set up a test social network using Ning without a single glitch. So top marks there for usability. See below, Gina Bianchini giving an impressive demo of Ning, filmed by Robert Scoble.

The Ning business model allows free usage being supported by ads with plenty of premium services available where there is demand.

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