I have a general non-technical question for the "new" Ning Team. I do not require a support ticket for this, nor do I need to be reminded the Ning team does not answer forum discussions here on their customer community.
I have been with this platform for a very long time, and for a while I was well known and highly regarded on Ning Creators. In fact, many of you here may remember I was one of the most outspoken critics against Mode Media and their weak business practices. Despite my views being shot down as irrelevant or unintelligible by most Ning Creators here, the test of time has proven me absolutely spot on. The only reason I have decided to rejoin is this merger/acquisition to a new management team, the slight glimmer of possibility there could be a positive future for this company, and consequently for my experience as a customer.
When I started, Ning was a platform that allowed you to create your own "social network" for free. The concept was pretty straightforward as a "FREEMIUM", meaning you could purchase upgrades in service to remove ads and so on. We had over a million networks created, although those figures were somewhat inflated by members creating multiple networks - probably a good 90% were inactive or barely active.
There were clearly some business issues around the model, so we changed to a tiered subscription model - that meant you had to pay to have a Ning social network, no more freemium, but there were different packages based on your needs and what you could afford. The idea that sold this to a lot of us was the notion, with the ability to focus on "serious" paying customers only, the product would be improved in terms of reliability, features, customer support, and so on.
Apparently this model was not working to the satisfaction of the company's stakeholders, so that is when we got folded into Mode Media and their advertising schemes. Mode, or Glam as it was known then, pretty much wanted to leverage the social networks built by "social leaders" in order to increase their comScore, sell high-end "smart" advertising solutions to brands, ideally leading to IPO, acquisition by major digital media player, or other similar exit strategies popularized by Silicon Valley VC movements.
This was an interesting time for Ning Creators who had come onboard under the inspirational "social platform" vision of Gina Bianchini - someone who believed in engaging the customer community directly on the actual product. The new management was purely interested in profits, or the perception of profits, but not necessarily from us platform users - Ning Creators were no longer the primary customer and, unless you had a large scale network under some market vertical that could be leveraged for advertising, your voice was no longer heard.
Ning became more of a "publishing platform" - not a "social networking platform" where you build community and interact, but a supposedly powerful and customizable blog application with social features to hold a following audience or customer fan base.
It raises questions for me as to what the platform is moving toward now. Is this, for instance, just a bunch of appeasement to make us customers relax and hold par during the transition? Might we find out soon that the new management was just trying to keep customers from fleeing so they could keep the perceived value up as much as possible while they shop it around for another fundraising round or figure out best disposition?
Or, do we have actual leadership and passionate vision again? Is there a future for this platform? Can we look at our projects on a planning horizon and see some security - that it's ok for us to invest, campaign for growth, or otherwise run our sites like businesses if we so choose?Are we doomed to the sort of one way communication standard adopted by Mode, eventually going completely radio silent for years, or can we at least get back to the days where we had direct liaison with the team like Eric - who by the way was exceptional at representing the business interests while advocating for common sense needs on behalf of customers - or could we even be looking at something better where Ning takes us even more seriously and looks to do more to partner with and support the success of our projects on a case by case basis?
Can we get back to the working Product Roadmap, organize the forums once again so technical questions and issues get directed accordingly, so customers like myself can come find out things from management like will we ever get a paywall back, or things from other NC's like how to embed a PDF - there was a time when it all seemed to be aspiring to something great, and I would say it has been sort of a traumatic drop over the last five or six years... we could really use some uplift!