SlideRocket takes on PowerPoint with Web-based interactive presentations

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Chuck Dietrich, CEO and founder of SlideRocket, has a problem with PowerPoint and other presentation platforms: They haven’t fundamentally changed in 25 years. Enter SlideRocket, an online presentation platform that brings interactivity and collaboration to a market otherwise dominated by Microsoft’s PowerPoint.

SlideRocket allows users to create slideshows in which viewers can post comments and answer polls in real time, turning a stale presentation format into a collaborative meeting tool. Presentation authors can invite people to attend presentation-centered meetings remotely through the Web as well as in person.

SlideRocket’s launch comes at a time when business collaboration programs have become increasingly important, but more fragmented.

Of course, remote Web meetings are a commodity feature available through Cisco’s WebEx and Citrix’s GoToMeeting. But those are largely used today to present conventional PowerPoint slides: The presentations take place over the Web, but they don’t otherwise make use of the medium.

SlideRocket users can pull live data from the Web like Google Docs and Spreadsheets for their presentations, so when the documents are updated the presentations are, too. Users can embed video and Twitter streams and other forms of media through the SlideRocket interface with plugins for YouTube, Flickr and other sites. SlideRocket offers tools for third-party application developers to create new ways to integrate content in SlideRocket presentations.

SlideRocket also has a marketplace with stock photos, video and sounds to help users spruce up their presentations — for which SlideRocket takes a small cut of the revenue.

Presentation authors can get some feedback as to how long users spent on slides and the responses to various polls and what kind of comments users left on slides. Premium users have access to a dashboard that presents analytics on viewer feedback to help presentation authors tailor their slideshows to their audience. The subscription service costs $24 per user per month to have access to analytics. SlideRocket also has a free version that gives users access to all the presentation tools.

The San Francisco, Calif.-based company was founded in 2006 and has raised about $7 million from a seed round and its first round of funding. Dietrich said more than 100,000 companies use SlideRocket, including a number of the largest companies in the world on the Fortune 100 list — though he wouldn’t specify which companies.

Here’s a screenshot of SlideRocket in action:

What do you think? Does PowerPoint need a reboot? Leave your thoughts on the ideal presentation tool in the comments.


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