Manning up in Silicon Valley

– Connie Loizos is a contributor for PE Hub, a Thomson Reuters publication. This article originally appeared here. The views expressed are her own. –

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.

from MediaFile:

Web 2.0: Ning does Virtual Gifts and Demand Media does healthcare

With the Web 2.0 conference about to kick off in San Francisco, Internet start-ups are unveiling new products and tossing out crumbs of data about their businesses intended to illustrate how fast they're growing.

Social-networking firm Ning led the charge on Tuesday with the news that it has grown 300 percent year-over-year to 36 million registered users and that it is jumping on the virtual goods bandwagon.

The company said it will begin selling virtual goods across the 1.6 million specialized social networks that exist on Ning for $1.50 per gift. The company said it will split 50 percent of the revenue with the Ning network creators who offer the goods on their respective networks.