eBay Should Buy Ning… But Can They Afford It?

There was an interesting post yesterday by Don Dodge on the recent financing for Ning.

Marc Andreessen’s Ning raises $44M – Social Network on a Freemium business model

Wow. $44M is a lot of money, and a $214M post-money is a lot for a company at the stage Ning is at financially. Not sure what the end game would be to justify it, unless they either see a multi-billion dollar company on the horizon of 3-5 years, or a quick flip for $500-750M in 2008.

This is one of the areas of Web 2.0, however, that eBay should be a part of. eBay, after all, was built on community. Not just one community, but thousands – coin collectors, auto parts dealers, book sellers.

When I look at Ning, I see a product that eBay should have built – a single profile for a user (much more Web 2.0 savvy and current than the current eBay My World product), and the ability for users to create and join as many groups as they want, with full social networking features. Rather than Google Adwords, the free groups could easily be featuring actually product & item recommendations. The natural search indexing benefits of the groups would be excellent. eBay could build features to help members share searches, classify products, highlight Stores, and make vibrant mini-communities on the eBay/Ning platform.

A couple of years ago, eBay tried to update it’s incredibly dated eBay Forums with the new eBay Groups product. But compare that effort to Ning, and I think you’ll see why I believe that eBay should be courting the Ning team actively. Ironically, the eBay Alumni network is on Ning already.

If the price is too high now, maybe there is a way for eBay to just do a deal to bring Ning functionality to its members, and merge the Ning profile with My World.

Try it out for yourself, and I think you’ll see. The combination of the eBay member base and the functionality of Ning could easily 10x the number of social networks on Ning, and bring the number of users into the tens of millions. The eBay community has always wanted to form social networks… they’ve just lacked modern tools to do so.  eBay & Ning could reach a scale together on a time table that wouldn’t be possible independently.

Please note: In the interest of full disclosure, I do have some good friends at Ning. And I do have some good friends at eBay. So, while I’m not a truly disinterested party, I have no financial stake in Ning. I am a current shareholder of eBay.

US Mint: 2007 Platinum Eagles Available at 12:00pm EST on July 17, 2007

Don’t say they didn’t warn you!

2007 American Eagle Platinum Proof and Uncirculated Coins Available July 17

From the press release:

Pricing and mintages of the 2007 American Eagle Platinum Proof and Platinum Coins are listed below:



Maximum Mintage

Product Limit

Proof one ounce




Proof Half-Ounce




Proof Quarter-Ounce




Proof Tenth-Ounce




Proof Four-Coin Set




Uncirculated One Ounce




Uncirculated Half-Ounce




Uncirculated Quarter-Ounce




Uncirculated Tenth-Ounce




Uncirculated Four-Coin Set




Note: Maximum mintages reflect the total number of individual product options and the coins included in the four-coin sets.

Orders for the platinum proof coins should be submitted early, as mintages are limited. There is no mintage limit for the platinum uncirculated coins. Household limits have not been set for these options. Additionally, the United States Mint reserves the right to limit quantities and may discontinue accepting orders at any time.

Wow. And you thought the First Spouse gold coins were expensive. $3000 for the proof set, and now there is an uncirculated version for collectors as well.

I don’t know what to make of the very low mintage. On the one hand, a low mintage usually means a good solid path to appreciation and rarity. On the other hand, how many people are really collecting the Platinum eagles? There has to be a diminishing return on pricing of coins. It’s the same issue I have with the First Spouse coins… how many people are really going to shell out $16,000 to own the whole set? And how much can it appreciate from there, since that’s just the up front cost?

In any case, don’t whine if you want these coins and you’re not there at 12pm to place your order. It’s as easy as going to:


Happy hunting.

P.S. If you happen to pick up an extra 4-coin proof set, feel free to send it my way.