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Social networking platform company Ning Inc. has raised $60 million in Series D financing at a $560 million post-money valuation, girding itself for a potential "nuclear winter" during an economic slowdown.
The funding sources were undisclosed large institutions, according to a blog post written by Ning co-founder and President Marc Andreessen, a co-founder of Netscape Communications Corp.
The funding is the latest eye-popping round for the company, which provides a platform that allows anyone to create and customize a social network. In July 2007, Ning raised a $44 million Series C led by Legg Mason at a post-money valuation of $214 million.
The latest Ning funding was raised to scale the Palo Alto, Calif.-based company. It currently has more than 230,000 social networks and is adding 1,000 per day, Andreessen said.
Ning also raised this large round "to make sure we have plenty of firepower to survive the oncoming nuclear winter," Andreessen wrote, referring to the current economic slowdown. Start-ups raising extra-large rounds have become more common in recent months, as insurance against difficult times in the near future.
While commonly known as a service for individuals or small groups to set up their own customizable social networks, Ning can be useful for mid-market groups or companies that want to quickly develop an online community, according to Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at Forrester Research who recently compiled a list of more than 70 white-label social networking companies.
The crowded white-label social networking space is undergoing a shake-out as companies attempt to gain traction in particular niches, Owyang said.