TechCrunch has a good post on Ning, Andreeson's startup from way back when (2005):
The idea of Ning, which launched in October 2005,
is brilliant. Let people easily create social applications tailored
with difference web services. Allow others to clone those applications
and take the code from them directly into whatever they are building
instead of building from scratch. Watch everything evolve as better and
better stuff gets built, which in turn is used to build even better
stuff. Ning leverages the platform by aggregating the applications and
selling advertising and premium tools/features.
This single paragraph made me think of what I wrote about Workday just recently, and the fact that Andreeson is involved with both, makes me wonder <speculation>if Workday and Ning really should be just one company.</speculation>
Ning has to date been positioned as a consumer service, at least to the degree that it's been positioned as anything. However when you consider that business applications haven't really benefited from any of the really interesting consumer internet technology, and the fact that there is still a lot of money in enterprise applications, well it makes sense to start looking at that market instead of consumers.
Workday has the hallmarks of a web 2.0 company, including php/ajax, multi-tenant hosting, and XML storage (that's as much I know about it at this point). Duffield is also right to be critical of mainstream business applications for being heavy on process automation and poor on flexibility and collaboration. The fact that the guy is very credible in enterprise systems and rich user experiences certainly doesn't hurt either.
All of this brings me back to the speculation part of this post. It's easy to talk about mashups of applications and services, but shouldn't we also be considering the idea of mashing up startup companies to create something bigger than just the sum of the parts. Insofar as Ning and Workday are concerned, this rises to the level of "wild assed speculation" because neither is a company with much substance beyond the credibility of the founders, and in the case of Workday they aren't even out of the requirements definition phase yet.