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This article was published on August 23, 2010

Ning’s on the up after ditching free accounts

Ning’s on the up after ditching free accounts

When Ning announced its intention to drop free accounts and force users to pay for their custom social networks, it was a bold move that risked a mass exodus from the service.

However, if a recent interview with the company’s recently-appointed CEO is to be believed, it’s paid off. Talking to Forbes, Jason Rosenthal reveals:

  • Almost 12% of previously non-paying Ning users have signed up for paid accounts. While that means many free users have fallen by the wayside, Ning now has three times the number of paying customers it had previously.
  • Previously non-paying users aren’t all opting for the cheapest account option. Users spend an average of $318 per year on their Ning accounts.
  • The company is on track to turn a profit by early next year.
  • Rosenthal has big ambitions for the company, eyeing what he sees as a $4bn market of potential customers out there to be taken.

In short it looks like a smaller, paying customer base is just the thing Ning needed. As Forbes’ Taylor Buley suggests, “A change business strategy is symptomatic of a company that only has 12 months worth of cash left in their coffers.”

Might we see more players in the social media space go down the “Paid only” route, based on Ning’s apparent success? It must surely be a possibility some of them are considering.