Chris Messina on Platform Building (circa January 2006) / by Nate Westheimer

I was reading through a post on TechCruch about he demise of Ning back in January of 2006 (earth to Arrington, they're still around) and found this long comment left by my friend Chris Messina (if I knew how to do cool semantic links I'm sure I could tell the Interwebs he's my friend). Anyway, I enjoyed it... especially because the process of building a platform has been on my mind so much. It actually made me breathe a sigh of relief.

I hope you enjoy it too:

Chris Messina

January 20th, 2006 at 10:12 am

...

So I think Michael’s criticisms are actually pretty well placed — but I can sympathize with Ning. And I’m not interested in becoming a platform apologist, but c’mon, both Flock and Ning’s visions are long term. We also released early to get feedback on what we had at the time. To quote that mountain of a man Rumsfeld, we went out with the app we had, not the app that we wanted.

And to this day, we’re still building on our visions — incrementally, adding things here and there, making downpayments on the long term visions that still drive the development of our apps.

Michael, I have to ask — in all sincerity, are the current expectations on timeframes for building platforms reasonable? Did you really expect an entire application platform to be built, soup to nuts, in just over three months? You’re familiar with the issues we’ve had trying to build a cross-platform, open source browser on a platform we’re purposely not forking. I can imagine that startups that aren’t G-sized and aren’t just building another also-ran Rails app will need more time to execute.

Call in question the communications, the messaging, the schedule of features — everyone could learn something from Tara — but I think hinting at the demise of Ning now is less useful than focusing on the more useful criticisms you’ve raised and how Ning can improve on them. I’ve talked to Yoz again and hopefully he can answer some of the things you’ve brought up. Otherwise — it’s good to keep us honest!