Jason Rosenthal, the new CEO at Ning.com officially announced today that Ning will phase out free services in July, 2010.
Users who want to keep their position on Ning will be offered three choices:
Ning Pro ($49/month or $499/year), Ning Plus ($20/month or $199.95/ year), and Ning Mini ($3/month or $19.95/year). We are told that teachers and students will be allowed to keep their free service.
Marc Andreessen (Netscape and Oppsware) cofounded Ning in 2004. The website provided a place for people to set up their own social network for free. I didn't know there was a paid version available until this week even though I claimed my own small piece of Ning since 2006.
Rosenthal is quoted in SFgate as saying that paid users accounted for 80% of Ning's revenues. This tells me that the folks who visit Ning do not click on Adsense ads very often. I suspect this is probably true at Squidoo as well where people are encouraged to put up web pages with absolutely no need to use HTML. One wonders if Squidoo will follow the lead of Ning and start charging for its service.
Rosenthal said Ning has a $4 Billion market opportunity. This would be twice the cost of YouTube to Google and it is hard to see that kind of numbers for Ning. Having said that, nothing in the realm of Internet site value surprises me any more.
Here is an update on the Ning website.
For my money, I would rather keep my membership at Ryze.com unless Ning implements a better and much more user friendly forum area.