eBay should acquire Ning. Here is why.
eBay is really the master of niche social networks. Using the power of the long tail there are communities that spring up around all kinds of crazy niche goods. For example, one of my good friends is related to the Brandreth family who long ago sold pills that were thought to be a cure for all sorts of diseases. These pills were featured in Moby Dick (see here) and now, vintage pills boxes appear on eBay auctions. Shockingly the bidding can at times be fierce as family members, museums and collectors battle to acquire these incredibly niche products.
One of eBay’s weakest areas is the social identity between users; finding a better way to connect with other users outside of simply asking questions would improve the experience 10 fold. I would love to see an integration with Ning where eBay users could start and join all sorts of niche communities built around products they are bidding on. Such communities would span from African wood carvings, to baseball cards to old school Porches. Let the people connect! Plus, what better place to advertise than among groups already looking to spend money?