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I’m often asked about the history of Ning, from our original launch to releasing Your Own Social Network for Anything and how we got from point A to point B.

Marc and I started Ning with a simple idea: what if we gave everyone the freedom to create their own social experiences online?

From the start, we wanted to give people the opportunity to create and control their own social applications on a fully customizable platform, with your choice of topic, features, design, and with your members. To this end, here’s the original sketch circa 2005 we whipped up to articulate what we wanted to enable with Ning:

Flashback

Look familiar? Sometimes the best ideas are the simplest.

From this sketch, we started with the underlying platform and a set of 26 simple social applications we offered to rapidly iterate and scale the Ning Platform. And then in October 2006, a year after launching the original platform, we got to work on realizing our initial vision of offering everyone -regardless of technical experience – the opportunity to create a customizable yet extremely easy-to-use social application. Now a social network, we launched our original vision in February 2007.

Today, drinking out of the firehose of over a half a million social networks with a new one created every 30 seconds, we still have the same clarity of purpose and commitment to enabling people the freedom to create. We’ve also learned, adjusted, tweaked, tuned, questioned, nitpicked and rapidly iterated based on new ideas, innovative thinking, momentary breakthroughs, fantastic feedback and the ever-insightful data and usage patterns available to us.

Like any technology company, we’re maniacally focused on the future. New features, better ways to quickly and easily access the Ning Platform and new ways to discover more of the social networks on Ning are all encompassing for us. We couldn’t be more excited about what’s coming. Then, again, it’s also fun to remember where we’ve been.