Monday, April 19, 2010

NING to Phase Out Free Accounts

NING, a free social networking site used by librarians and educators, among other interest groups, will gradually become fee-based. According to Don Clark's 4/19/2010 story in the Wall Street Journal, "NING Moves to Phase Out Free Accounts", the company is revising its strategy to make money and to better address misuse of its service. NING users currently can establish accounts anonymously, which makes it easy for disreputable users to abuse the networking service. Addressing misuse of its service is not the business it wants to devote so much time and effort to. One way the company can better control SPAM, pornography, and other junk is to eliminate the anonymity factor by requiring a credit card for monthly services.

Co-founded by Internet entrepreneur Marc Anderson in 2004, NING is cutting its work force by 40% and will focus its efforts on paid services. The WSJ interviewed NING executive Jason Rosenthal, who said that their customers who use NING premium services (paid services) account for about 80% of the company's revenue. The company's original business plan assumed that most of its revenue would come from paid advertising.

Given the change from free to fee-based, the California School Library Association (CSLA) will remove or de-emphasize reference to NING in its professional development courses, School Library Learning 2.0 and Classroom Learning 2.0. Educator NING sites include:
The good news is that NING plans to probably offer a low price for educators, individuals, and small non-profits. NING's starting price is $4.95/month, so the educator price would most likely be lower. New service plan offerings will be announced on 5/4/2010.

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