One of the few things that I had seriously missed writing about in my blog absence was about slideshare. I liked the service the very instant I looked at it and resolved that I MUST write about it the first chance I get to down to do any writing on my blog. Back then when it was released I could not use it much but recently I got to play with it quite a bit and I liked it all the more. By this time there has been a lot that has been said about it and probably what I write in this post may not be something new but still I am going to write about it as I love slideshare so much 🙂
The first thing that struck me when I started using it was what took it so long far something like this to come up.
Powerpoint was an accidental innovation and it is a form of new media type though it is never thought of that way. I don’t know who was the original creator of powerpoint but I think powerpoint is one ingenious piece of innovation by itself though we all love to hate it. It is been long known that value of any media increases when it can be shared, co-experienced etc. And this is the important fact that was not thought about in the context powerpoints and that’s the key value add of slideshare. Some of things that really stand out is the feature of making the product inherently viral in nature (easy sharing in blogs), marketing it as the “youtube for powerpoint”. Overall it leveraged a mix of market,networks & communities to create value.
With slideshare being so well recieved the usual suspects like Google, Yahoo & Microsoft (GYM) would have long since fired their products division to build their own version of it. IMO this should not be cause of worry to slideshare as they are much ahead of the GYM in this game. The service has inherent networks effects built into it thus leading to a clear first mover advantage working in favour of them. So the best bet for any of these big players would be to acquire slideshare but from what I can say about the team at Uzanto they can grow this into a great independent business by itself. Given this it would be very exciting to watch out what unfolds in this space.
Slideshare picked a very important need which nobody else thought of addressing and built a great solution at a very low cost, marketed it extremely inexpensively and positioned themselves startegically very well amongst billion dollar/pound gorillas in a niche which could turn into a great beachead. IMHO entrepreneuers like me can learn great lessons from this and I would also say it is another great example of getting real.
Having said it all here some of my thoughts which I think could make slideshare stronger and better.
- Should add capability create powerpoints on slideshare of itself. (MS should run scared when this day comes and thats exactly why I think MS should be the strongest contender for slideshare)
- Or even before that allow ability to remix from uploaded powerpoints ( this one would be a huge value multiplier IMO ). For example I can create a new presentation from using the slide 2-6 of one powerpoint combined with slide 1, 3 9 of another powerpoint. Well this would raise the ugly head of property rights issue which could become quite a bit of challenge but then is’nt that the real fun/interesting part of the media revolution that we are living in today.
- Though I said powerpoint is an ingenius innovation but one has to admit that it is a crippled form of media , it is an inherent property of powerpoint and that is why I referred earlier that we all love to hate it. So giving some solution to fix that would just raise the bar extremely for the service. Let me elaborate this a little bit, any form of media (be it telephone, SMS, movies, radio, video, print ) can be broadly divided into three categories based on their modes of communication and different forms revel at different modes. These three modes are ‘information transfer’, ‘story telling’ & ‘presence’. Powerpoint was designed to excel at information transfer in a group context but they are real hits when they are used in the story telling mode. Folks like Guy Kawasaki, Cliff Atkinson got famous as presentation zens because of their techniques & tips on how to use your ppts effectively in the story telling mode. To cut the long story short it is fairly obvious powerpoints are not suited for ‘presence’ but is predominantly used for ‘information sharing’ but if designs can be added into slideshare which can turn into a great storytelling tool in addition to oiling the existing ‘information sharing’ functionality then it would be even more wonderful.
To sort of sum up Slideshare might not reach the extreme(crazy) heights of what youtube did the reason being quite obvious which has to do with nature of medium involved. The power of video (presence & story telling) is much stronger than that of powerpoint ( information sharing & possibly story telling) but there is no doubt in my mind that slideshare would go on to become one very big hit and I wish them all the best 🙂
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Interview with Slideshare founder Jon Boutelle. Jon Boutelle was born in Boston and grew up on a farm in Massachusetts. A degree holder in Psychology from the Brown University, RI, he along with Rashmi Sinha and Amit Ranjan have been on the helm of SlideShare along with the rest of the team based in Delhi and the US.
Read more about it at
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