This week, Marc Andreessen announced that Ning, the social networking platform company he co-founded in 2004 and that went on to raise nearly $120 million, had “agreed to merge” with the lifestyle blog network Glam Media. Yet few believe it will be a marriage of equals.
“Merger” was almost uniformly put in wink-wink quotations in press accounts of the deal. Outside investors didn’t buy it, either. “My guess is that Glam thinks it is gaining some credibility by adding Andreessen to its board, and in return Glam is putting Ning out of its misery,” said one VC who asked not to be named.
Andreessen seemed further undermined – if unintentionally so — by Ning’s CEO Jason Rosenthal, who published his own announcement at Ning’s site, writing that Ning had “signed an agreement to be acquired” by Glam.
If Andreessen gussied up the deal a bit, can anyone really hold it against him? Andreessen clearly wanted to be respectful of Rosenthal and Ning’s founding team. He had investors to consider, particularly Ning’s later-stage investors, who bought into Ning’s $750-plus million valuation just 26 months ago. (The company is reportedly selling for $150 million in Glam stock.) And certainly, Andreessen wouldn’t be first in putting a positive spin on a less-than-sunny situation.