Remember when threw out all its adult communities, back in 2008?

Ning To Adult Social Networks: Bugger Off

Well, I used it as an example in support of my broad premise that anything worth doing on the internet is worth doing with your own domain that you control. Free services will inevitably screw you, one way or another.

Just last month I got caught up in a bit of a twitstorm just last month when I questioned the wisdom of using for an adult bloggers co-op, earning me a number of huffy and defensive responses. A central theme of those responses (which I cannot link because the person promoting the co-op has since “protected” their tweets) was the point that was free, whereas setting up your own social networking software might be expensive, complicated, or difficult.

I hate to say I told you so, but…

I told you so. From Ning, a few days ago:


Today we made some changes at Ning. I want to share with you the email Jason Rosenthal, our CEO, sent to all Ning employees:


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.

As a consequence of this change, I have also made the very tough decision to reduce the size of our team from 167 people to 98 people. As hard as this is to do, I am confident that this is the right decision for our company, our business, and our customers. Marc and I will work diligently with everyone affected by this to help them find great opportunities at other companies.

I’ve never seen a more talented and devoted team, and it has been my privilege to get to know and work with each and every one of you over the last 18 months.

We’ll use today to say goodbye to our friends and teammates who will be leaving the company. Tomorrow, I will take you through, in detail, our plans for the next three months and our new focus.

Jason Rosenthal

I know many of you will have questions about this announcement. We will share detailed plans within two weeks.

I feel confident that this change in direction will be very positive for our premium service customers because Ning will be 100% focused on delivering the features and services which benefit you and help you achieve your goals.

I will be here to answer your questions and respond to your concerns. However, today I am focusing on my team, so there may be a delay in my responses.

John McDonald
VP Advocacy

(Bold emphasis added by ErosBlog.)

It’s not that I blame Ning. Business models based on giving stuff away and then arm-waving your way to profit are failing all over the place. It’s just — this sort of thing will destroy another whole bunch of communities who don’t manage to raise the cash for the paid service or figure out a way to “transition off of Ning”. And it was predictable. Better, in my view, to set your stuff up in a way that can’t be easily destroyed by sudden shifts in other people’s shaky business models.

I’ve taken to calling it Bacchus’s First Rule Of The Internet: “Anything worth doing on the internet is worth doing at your own domain that you control.”

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