PowerPoint Under Threat?

Venture capitalists spend an inordinate portion of their working lives staring at PowerPoint presentations. But it seems like more are looking for a better way.

Looking at venture funding data, it seems that several would-be PowerPoint rivals have raised money in the last couple of years. The most recent, San Francisco-based SlideRocket, raised $5 million last week from Azure Capital and Hummer Winblad Venture Partners.

As someone who’s spent enough time at venture events to see more than my fair share of PowerPoint presentations, I can agree that there ought to be a more dynamic, less clunky way to do things. (Though admittedly, it’s unclear to me to what extent the blame lies with PowerPoint itself or with presenters who aren’t using the program’s features to optimal effect.)

Competitors, both startups and large companies, are adding a few twists to the medium. SlideRocket, which has raised $11.7 million to date, runs an online, software-as-a-service offering, with security features that can limit who has access to what parts of the presentation. (i.e., let potential investors see the slide about a private company’s revenues, but not the general public

Other startups in the sector include SlideShare, a service for sharing PowerPoint presentations online that raised $3 million from Venrock Associates and other investors in May 2008; Freepath, a Folsom, Calif.-based developer of a rich media presentation-building application that raised $1.5 million from Velocity Partners a few months earlier; and Accordent Technologies, a presentation software company that raised $4 million from TVC Capital in 2006.

Additionally, large cap technology companies are investing in their own would-be PowerPoint killers, with offerings such as Apple’s Keynote and the free office software application Google Presentations. See full story here.