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If Prezi, the cloud-based tool that is attempting to reinvent presentation, created its own presentation about today’s announcement that it has raised $57 million, the title might be:
“We haven’t even touched the previous $15.5 million”
That’s what CEO and cofounder Peter Arvai told VentureBeat, in effect, about the company’s first two rounds of funding, the most recent of which was completed three years ago.
So why would the San Francisco-based company want to raise an even larger chunk of cash if the first $15.5 million is still sitting in a corner somewhere?
“We want to make sure we can take advantage of opportunities,” Arvai said, “including acquisitions.”
While he didn’t go into detail about what these new opportunities might be, Arvai offered a vision of his company as a tool that extends the ability of “people whose job it is tell compelling stories.”
And as a platform.
“Prezi is a unique company because it doesn’t only have a tool,” he said, “but [it is] the world’s largest publicly available presentation database,” with over 160 million “prezis.”
“Many [of the prezis] are under a reuse license,” Arvai added, so users “can build on top of the work of others,” extending the idea of templates. It also opens up the possibility of Prezi becoming more of a user community centered around storytelling and presentation.
The company offers a versatile tool for making presentations that takes a different approach — interactive, fluid, and zoomable — from the slide structure of Microsoft’s PowerPoint, Google’s Presentations, and Apple’s Keynote.
“We don’t force you to box your ideas into small boxes [as slides],” he said, adding that such a segmented structure makes it harder to see how ideas connect.
Instead, Arvai said that Prezi offers the ability to “zoom out and see the big picture or zoom in and see details to show the idea in context.”
In addition to making acquisitions that could expand on being a community and a platform, Prezi could also be looking at buying some HTML5 tools and toolmakers. As a Flash-based offering, the company is facing a dwindling base of support for that technology.
Currently, Prezi reports about 50 million users, which Arvai said was more than double the number at this time last year. He declined to say how many were paying users.
The makers of a recent entry into this post-slide presentation space, Emaze, have described Prezi as “a quite revolutionary product,” but one with a steep learning curve that can take two or three days.
When asked about this criticism, Arvai countered that the Prezi “tool itself is very simple,” while acknowledging that people who are accustomed to slides and bullet points may have a more difficult time adapting.
“But [users] not accustomed to telling stories through slides love Prezi,” he said.
The new funding was raised from Spectrum Equity, with participation from Accel Partners, an existing investor.
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