Automagically, news of Ning's latest funding comes out concurrently with a rather glowing piece in Fast Company the make-your-own social network has raised a $60 million fourth round from unspecified institutional investors investors, valuing the company at $500 million, pre-money. The company last raised $44 million last summer, which then valued the company at $170 million. On his blog, founder Marc Andreesen explains: "We raised the money to enable us to keep scaling given our accelerating growth (over 230,000 networks on Ning now, growing at over 1,000 per day) and to make sure we have plenty of firepower to survive the oncoming nuclear winter. At current growth rates, we don't need it to get to cash flow positive, but having lived through the last crunch, it's good to be conservative with these things." He also noted that the round was led by Allen & Co.
Andreesen's comments aren't the first to tie a big raise with fears of a coming downturn. Last week, Fabrice Grinda, founder of free classifieds site OLX also suggested that his company's latest round was in part insurance against a recession.
Ning isn't alone in offering what could be called a white label social networking platform, but unlike a number of its competitors, like KickApps, it's made a point of targeting users, as opposed to just businesses. Not that it doesn't do have a B2B side. It's most well known site seems to be Thisis50, the official social net of the rapper 50 Cent.
By Joseph Weisenthal