Andreessen sets sights on social networking

Netscape co-founder Marc Andreessen has set his sight on trying to help Web surfers build online communities outside the walls of social networking leaders MySpace.com and Facebook.com, an Associated Press report said.

The Associated Press report said Andreessen's vehicle this time around is Ning, a Palo Alto-based startup that he began in 2005 with former banker Gina Bianchini.

The report said after months of fine-tuning, Ning is finally ready to make its big push with a free toolkit designed to make it easy to launch a social network with a few mouse clicks.

Ning's package includes all the social networking staples, videos, photos, music, forums, personal profiles and blogs.

Although both MySpace and Facebook have become smash hits by offering the same features, Andreessen is convinced people dislike the big social networks' one-size-fits-all approach, the report said.

With Ning's products, even technology neophytes can customize social networks around narrowly shared interests, such as a sports team, church group, hobby or TV show, the report said.

Ning hopes to make money through a combination of advertising and fees for premium services like extra storage space or bandwidth, the report added.

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