Saturday, August 23, 2008


As promised, here is a complete record of correspondence from August 2nd, 2008 through August 22nd, 2008 between WidgetLaboratory and Ning.

Ning has premised their shutdown of WidgetLaboratory solely on the basis of "unduly degrading the performance of the Ning platform." It is our position that there was no warning of any such degrading prior to the termination notice (which was sent after the termination had been completed). Any prior mention of TOS issues had solely to do with whether WidgetLaboratory was entitled to utilize member login information in order to support its customers and products.

Please notice the August 7th communication from Ning to WidgetLaboratory, where there is no warning as to any imminent or future shutdown. The last we heard, Jason Rosenthal was going to be contacting us about "business conversations" on the 15th of September. The next communication from Ning is on August 22nd, where their counsel informs WidgetLaboratory that we have already been shut-down.

Read this document on Scribd: WidgetLaboratory Correspondence with Ning

Important Announcement From WidgetLaboratory

We wish to extend another great "Thanks!" to everyone who has expressed their support and exercised patience and restraint. We realize that the financial and emotional strain of Ning's actions have caused many of you to be in a turmoil the last 24 hours, wondering "what will I do now?"

Since Ning took these aggressive and unwarranted steps, WidgetLaboratory has been working tirelessly to come up with immediate and satisfying SOLUTION for all of you. We are proud to announce that we have achieved success. Our primary focus has always been to provide the BEST customer support, AWESOME products, and a WELCOMING customer experience. Now that Ning's management has demonstrated for public scrutiny their means and methods, we are prepared to demonstrate ours. To wit:

1) All of WidgetLaboratory Source Code will be made publicly available and free to anyone to use under a Creative Commons License. We have created an easy-installation pack that will allow any Network Creator to use any of their previously purchased products on their own networks as before, and make any and all modifications and changes they wish, subject only to our retention of authorship rights and credit.

WHY should any of you suffer from Ning taking away our products? We worked very hard for the last eight months developing solutions that Ning would not. With over 100 million in Venture Capital and more than 99 employees, Ning was unwilling or unable to produce what two crazy dudes working out of a Castle in Bratislava were able to. IT'S YOUR SOFTWARE, so ENJOY IT! We believe that YOU have every right to use the products you paid for on your own network. If you are clever, we're sure you will also figure out how to make your own changes to our hard work and make your own "versions" as well. OUR PROMISE was to back our products 100%... and now we are doing just that;

2) WidgetLaboratory will be providing FREE MIGRATION TOOLS to anyone who wishes to use them. Not feeling too "comfortable" anymore having someone else hold the keys to your website and members? Ever think about the fact that some sites claim that you can "leave when you want" but then provide you NO MEANS to do so? Ever think about what it would be like to have YOUR Network UNPLUGGED after a year or more of hard work and hundreds or thousands of members all LOST? We have... we're living the nightmare. Anyone who wants to use our free migration tools will be able to do so at their own discretion;

3) Open Source "Safe Harbor" Site Creation for business and other professionals. Was your business and reputation put into jeopardy yesterday? Did you feel like an idiot having to explain to your clients and associates why your site looked like someone mixed it into a blender? Where did all those hours and hours of work and pages and pages of content go to when Ning pulled the plug?

WidgetLaboratory has received tremendous support from outside of the Ning community. The Social Networking "phenomenon" is not owned by Ning. Not by a long-shot. With the support of our new partners, and utilizing off-the-shelf options as well, we are now crafting a solution that will likely be a "safer" environment for anyone who does not wish to be subject to the whims of a hosting-company "executive decision".

We believe that our customers have the RIGHT to OWN their sites, OWN their site content, OWN their own code, and OWN the right to not be terminated, threatened or cajoled by ANYONE, especially a hosting-company executive.

Our new solution, for anyone interested, will employ the same creativity, fun, and focus on features that have become the hallmark of the WidgetLaboratory "brand". We will NOT be hosting your solution. We will NOT be acting as an intermediary. We instead will be providing you with multiple open-source sites upon which you can "plug and play" your social network and still have all the WidgetLaboratory products from today, as well as those that we create tomorrow. All the while you will have COMPLETE CONTROL over your own destiny and site. No one will be able to take that away from you or threaten to pull-the-plug for dubious reasons with no method or means for appeal.

4) We will be publishing the complete record of our relationship with Ning from start to finish for public scrutiny. Many of you have no "doubt" as to what took-place behind the scenes... but others are still not sure. We have stated all along that we were only maintaining our silence until such time as Ning's counsel elected to reconsider their position. We have always stated that Ning should have simply restored WidgetLaboratory and prevented the ongoing "harm" that it was causing to all of you, and THEN sit down with us to negotiate the business terms... which are the TRUE reason why we were removed. As you will soon read for yourself, from day one until we were unplugged, WidgetLaboratory has maintained our professionalism, respect for the Rules of Ning, obeyance of the Terms of Service, and submission to Ning's decisions. We were unplugged because of Anti-competitive concerns by Ning's management;

5) Choose your own destiny, make your own decisions. We are aware that Ning may now be offering up to six months of "free" premium service to any Network Creator who complains loudly enough or directly to Gina Bianchini. Not sure if this is true, but perhaps any of you can verify that for yourselves? Perhaps this would be an additional way to help compensate for the disruption of your business and personal networks?

We have also heard that Ning will be now "magically" producing tabs, pages, and a way for you to migrate out your WidgetLaboratory content as well. After more than a year of stating that this was not on their "roadmap", this is incredible news and fortuitous timing as well. Anything that restores some semblance of "control" to YOU as Network Creator is a good thing for everyone.

6) Damages are in Ning's court now. We stand ready, willing, and able to help anyone and everyone who needs the same. We are always available via email, telephone, or skype. Whether you decide to stay, or think it's time to leave, ultimately you have a friend in WidgetLaboratory. We are not "going away" anytime soon. In fact, Ning's actions may have been the best thing that ever happened to WidgetLaboratory and you. NOW the Emperor has been shown to be wearing no clothes... and Ning's actions will now face both public scrutiny as well as any resulting litigation or class-action suits that follow in order to restore you all to the position you were in before Friday morning. WidgetLaboratory intends to continue with our promise of 100% satisfaction as stated herein.

We welcome ANY and ALL questions, inquiries, and invitations to discuss the facts and details further. We are an open-book and have NOTHING to hide.

Spencer Forman
CEO & Co-Founder