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On Ning’s Traffic Jump

The ADD-riddled tech world has already moved on (we need a Valley version of Ritalin), but I’m still slightly fixated on Ning. Here is what Compete has to say. Note the expected 250% jump since February. But this picture is inherently deceptive.

My problem with the whole scenario is this – does this count social networks that are running their own domain? Meet http://othvip.cwtv.com/. This is the One Tree Hill network (don’t ask), probably their largest. I highly doubt that Compete (and even Comscore and Nielsen) are rolling all these numbers up.

So, the million dollar question: what is the real traffic jump since the relaunch in February?

Private Label Social Network Vendor List

July 10, 2007 68 comments

Update (03/19/08): Heard a few days ago that Kickapps might get flipped to AOL for an asking price of $90 million. Ning continues its upward trend in absolute number of social networks created (now north of 200K) and claims that 70% of them have seen activity in the last thirty days. That’s a very nice number but I still don’t have a good sense of how these guys are monetizing the service. I’m willing to wager that most of 200K networks are free. Ning monetizes these with Google AdSense; not sure why they don’t insert targeted display ads. Apart from that, the product is very nice – I’m biased 🙂

Update (10/30/07): Just heard that Ning (one of the vendors featured below) is going to participate in Google’s OpenSocial project. This means that any developer that plays in the Google playground may have access to the social graph information on a Ning network (details are as yet fuzzy). This could give Ning a nice shot in the arm and the other vendors listed would be foolish to overlook this Google initiative. If I were them, I’d try to bake that API support into my OEM product.

Update (09/10/07): Since this post sees a decent amount of interest, I’m updating with a little more info.

Original Post:

Continuing along the lines of popular rehash of the day: social networks are commodity features; I’ve decided to put out a list of private label social network vendors. This is because – believe it or not – a compiled list like the one I provide is sort of hard to find on a crappy blog like the one edited by yours truly.

Consider it my contribution to the long tail 🙂

  1. KickApps
    1. Powers 3000 social networks as referenced on TechCrunch. Classic white label provider of social networking.
    2. Solid set of hooks available on the affiliate pages for customization.
    3. Full widget and RSS capability.
  2. Ning
    1. Almost should not belong in this list because it is essentially an end consumer play with many small niche networks.
    2. Ning has 100000 networks and growing. In terms of activity, there is a clear power law distribution – a very small number of “popular” networks (membership in the thousands) and a large number of niche as well as dead networks.
    3. Wide range of customization and skinning options, strong API.
    4. Kick-ass setup. You can be up and running in minutes. This thing is eGroups for the web, to be highly crude and facetious about it.
    5. Retains users’ email addresses when they sign up for your network. They own the users if you decide to bounce with your content.
    6. Minor nit, but the member management interface blows. I’m guessing its because the number of members an average network has is less than 100. But if you get past a 1000, good luck finding anyone. Feel free to paginate through a list ten at a time! Yay!
  3. Pringo Networks
    1. Small startup based out of Los Angeles, more in the KickApps realm. It is my sincere hope that they haven’t been polluted by the neighboring sewage that is MySpace.
    2. Site claims more features than anyone else; dont know if I quite believe everything yet.
  4. Elgg
    1. Open source product, limited traction
    2. Local deployment as opposed to hosted solution.
  5. Pluck
    1. Heavy hitter customers such as Washington Post and USA Today.
    2. Based out of Austin, Texas.
  6. Small World Labs
  7. Leverage Software
    1. Boasts enterprise customers such as Microsoft and SalesForce. Initial guess is that these larger shops use the product to create one-off communities around corporate events.
    2. Website does not look like it was put together by a marketer who got high on their own supply. This, of course, is a good thing.
    3. This is a .NET system.
  8. Community Server
    1. This is a .NET system.
    2. Claims to be a platform. Who doesn’t, eh?
    3. Three different levels. Base platform is free.
  9. Inspire
    1. Inspire builds health-focused communities and support networks in order to connect patients, caregivers, families, etc.
    2. I saw these guys and met Brian Loew as well as Amir (head of BD) at Health 2.0 where they did a panel presentation alongside DailyStrength and PatientsLikeMe.
    3. I think of this as a cross between DailyStrength and Ning (see coverage above).
    4. Inspire owns all the users that are obtained through the creation of any and all networks created on its platform.
    5. I don’t know enough about why Inspire is better than Ning and what support network specific features it can lay claim to.
  10. Affinity Circles
    1. Customer list heavily biased towards university alumni networks.
    2. More of an out of box hosted solution, lacks a real API from what I know.

Enjoy.

Full Disclosure: I spent a brief period of time in 2005 working at Ning. They were not building private label social networks back then.

Each Ning Network Is Now Worth 3000 Dollars

July 10, 2007 2 comments

As soon as the news of Ning’s mondo round of $44 million broke (thanks to MCB for the correction), I asked myself (as I hyperventilated on the treadmill): how much was the company worth post-money? Answer: $214 million. That makes each social network on Ning approximately worth $3000 dollars, a nice little piece of math done by Om Malik here.

Of course, that’s a little glib, but the fact remains unchanged: Ning’s new round brings it massive valuation. While that’s great for the good folks over at Ning (who I worked with and have nothing but good wishes for!) – is it a good thing for the Valley? Or is it a prescient sign of other social networking shops (KickApps and the like) seeing big, possibly undeserved exits?

I’ve created networks on Ning and worked there *briefly* in 2005, so I’ll write another post reviewing the service in its current avatar. Stay tuned.