PSCP Holdings Limited Acquired Ning, Ning Partners with Noosphere – What Gives?
Is Ning attempting to deflect attention away from its true and only parent? It seems that way. It’s sure better to put a known company with a sizable internet footprint front and center as oppose to one that shrouded in mystery. I’m still scouring the web for information on Ning’s new parent – Phoenix Social Curation Platform (PSCP) Holdings Limited. As for Noosphere, well, it’s still unclear to me what the nature of their “partnership with Ning” is all about. I’ll give my opinion/theory in just a bit. Let’s first take a look at the facts.
What Do We Know About PSCP Holdings Limited? – It’s a foreign entity.
PSCP Holdings Limited is a foreign company with connections to The Netherlands, Germany and Tortola – a British Virgin Island in the Caribbean. PSCP Holdings may also have interests in Ukraine and Russia.
According to TMDB – a Trademark Search Engine based in Munich, Germany, PSCP Holdings Limited filed a trademark application (no. 013202163) for Phoenix Social Curation Platform (Wordmark) on August 26, 2014. The owner (PSCP Holdings) listed their address as QUIJANO CHAMBERS, P.O. BOX 3459 ROAD TOWN, TORTOLA VG.
The first clue of PSCP’s Tortola connection came while I doing research on their website’s domain. While their Domain Registrar (KEY-SYSTEMS GMBH) is based in Germany, their web host (LeaseWeb Netherlands B.V.) is based in The Netherlands. Research on their Nameservers and IP revealed a broad association with another company based in Tortola. Tortola, which was once a territory of The Netherlands, has a large base of offshore companies that do business worldwide so it should not be shocking to learn that PSCP has some kind of base there.
According to Alexa.com, 75.2% of traffic to going to the PSCP Holdings Limited website comes from Ukraine (information at the time article was published). That would explain the translation to “Russian” option on their website. Why translate to Russian and not Ukrainian? I’ll keep it short to avoid diving deep into history. Russia has a strong presence in the Crimean Peninsula – territory claimed by Ukraine and recognized to be Ukrainian by most of the United Nation states.
What does this mean for Ning?
Foreign vs Domestic Owners – It doesn’t really matter where the company is from as long as their intentions are consistent with what Ning customers expect. It’s important to point out that Ning has a large base of international customers so the idea of a foreign agent may be very welcoming to some. Information about PSCP Holdings is very limited (no pun intended) so it’s hard to come up with a “what may happen” scenario . At least we know that they’re involved with social web technology. According to their website, Phoenix Social Curation Platform (PSCP) AKA Platform Phoenix “is an advanced and innovative platform that allows to launch social curation projects with ease.” PSCP may just be the best thing that ever happened to Ning.
What About Noosphere?
The official announcement on the Ning acquisition came from Noosphere. The title of the announcement – “Ning Partners with Noosphere” is a bit misleading. It implies that there was some kind of merger between the two companies, and while that may be the case, it’s also possible that Ning is nothing more than a client of Noosphere.
The first clue to this business-client relationship comes in the first sentence of the acquisition announcement.
“Noosphere is happy to announce that it recently coordinated the successful acquisition of Ning Inc assets.”
The announcement explicitly stated “PSCP Holdings Limited acquired the business (Ning)”. It then went on to say that “The Ning brand is an important member of their (PSCP Holdings Limited) social discovery division’s portfolio of technology asset…” Other than saying that they coordinated the acquisition Noosphere makes no mention of, or stake claims to ownership or partnership with Ning but they went on to confuse us by saying “We are excited about the acquisition and expect to invest in our team, infrastructure, and system upgrades and are committed to improving the overall customer experience.”
“Invest in our team”? Please state your exact role. How do you factor in?
What We Know About Noosphere?
“Noosphere is an international asset management firm…” they partner with “entrepreneurs, innovators and executives and provides them with a powerful combination of capital, hands-on management and innovation expertise…” The company, headquarters in Menlo Park, California, was founded by Dr. Max Polyakov (Ph.D., International Economics). He is also the chairman of Noosphere. Dr. Polyakov is described as a “serial entrepreneur who has founded many successful companies, including IT-Ukraine, HitDymanics Ltd., Maxymiser Ltd., Maxima Group, and Cupid Plc. Dr. Polyakov has an extensive experience in leading online projects from the idea stage through to sale or IPO launch.”
Noosphere is a relatively big company with different divisions. Noosphere Ventures is the division which was most like responsible for coordinating the PSCP acquisition of Ning. Noosphere Ventures is said to be “focused on specific vertical markets.” They “invest in teams and companies from incubation through seed to emerging growth and provide a powerful combination of capital and alternative resources.” The extent of Noosphere investment in Ning is unclear. For one thing, a long term investment could bring about more positive change than short term investment. Noosphere seem to have a solid reputation and proven success in their industry. They sure do have a lot more experience than Cyndx and that brings me to my next point.
I just want to make clear that this is my theory and not proven facts. I believe Cyndx was outbid by Noosphere and not PSCP Holdings Limited. The two companies (Cyndx and Noosphere) are basically in the same industry. They’re in the business of helping startups, growth stage and struggling business raise capital and or find investors. Part of the process/preparations to find investors or buyers involves cleaning up shop and helping the company get it together. This is exactly what Noosphere is doing with Ning right now. Hopefully, they’ll be able to restore Ning to its former glory. This will be a great vindication for the loyal Ningsters who chose to ride out the storm.