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Ning Doing Well On The Social Networking Sidelines

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[ Social Media]

With all of the talk regarding social media it seems that the inordinate amount of the attention goes to the big 2; Facebook and Twitter. While they do tend to generate significant drama and even some real news there is more to the social media space. In fact, there are those who see the social media universe fragmenting into very specific verticals so those of like mind can gather online without having to see that your friend just had a great breath of air. There’s got to be more right?

One of the biggest ‘sideline’ players in this space is Ning. They are doing very well despite some recent decline in numbers. They are doing so well that they picked up some more VC investment. The amount of the investment is not the focus, however, as pointed out over at AllThingsD. It’s the valuation that the investment is based on, which is a hefty $750 million. Not bad for getting just a small percentage of the attention that social media gets in the online press. For the uninitiated here is an overview of the company

Ning is working in a different corner of the social media space than the others

Ning is a platform aimed at offering customizable tools that lets users create their social networks about their interests, such as for fans of the movie “Twilight.”

Ning puts online ads on the sites, using Google (GOOG), and is also working on its own advertising platform. It also offers an array of other services and is planning more soon, such as a virtual gift offering.

Founded in early 2007, it currently has 29.3 million registered users, using 1.3 million social networks, and it adding one million registered users every 15 days, said the company.

Despite the positive news of investment interestTechCrunch reports

In the U.S., unique visitors actually declined 10 percent from May, 2009 to June, 2009, according to comScore. Ning had 5.1 million visitors in the U.S. in June (its worldwide audience is about three times as large).

The company attributes the decline to “some downtime in June as we expand and optimize our infrastructure to support the growth that we are expecting in the next 12 months.” Ning says it is adding 4,000 new Ning Networks every day and one million registered users every 15 days.

Ning lands this relatively small investment while it wasn’t even seeking more. Having Lightspeed Venture Partners on board, however, makes the roster of investors more impressive as the folks at Ning continue to grow their business. that can carry some value later on when they may actually look for money intentionally.

What is your experience with Ning? Do you have any experience at all with the service? What place does a service like Ning truly have? Ning CEO Gina Bianchini says that “We want to be the social network for interests and passions online.” Are there ways one can express passions online without such a service? Give us your passionate thoughts on the subject.

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