SlideShare - the YouTube of slideshows

Aylon Steinhart · May 7, 2008 · Short URL:

Who says you need a fancy name to deliver quality services? Certainly not SlideShare, the world's largest community for sharing slideshows online.

As hinted by the name, this Mountain View and New Delhi-based company doesn't shoot for complexity. Here it’s all about the simple user experience that is necessary for any Internet community. SlideShare can be thought of as YouTube for slideshows.

So who uses SlideShare? As an online community, SlideShare is home to many different users. The community is accessible to anyone with an email address, so the users range from photographers sharing their work to teachers uploading lecture slides. Additionally, companies seeking to reach a broad audience can upload their pitches to the community.

The idea is that anyone interested in uploading a slideshow to the community can do so. Users can upload PowerPoint, OpenOffice, or PDF presentations and share them either publicly or privately. Slides can also be synched with music through any mp3 URL to pretty up the presentations.

As is the nature of an online community, the SlideShare Web site is also a medium for social networking. The Web site is structured accordingly, with abilities to “favorite” and download shows, leave comments for users, and join groups and events (also created by users). Additionally, users can grow their own network by finding and contacting other users through messaging and posting on their “wall". Users can also participate and vote in contests, such as best presentation.

In order to keep up with the quickly-developing mainstream Internet culture, SlideShare also offers the ability to take the slides out into the wild. Users can add SlideShare widgets to blogs or other websites, and can share slideshows off of SlideShare in social networks, blogs, and bookmarking sites. The last feature available is for developers, who can use SlideShare's API to create their own custom applications. 

The YouTube-style layout of the website is simple and familiar and allows for easy searching. The organization of groups and events is also quite logical, so all the groundwork is present for a good community. 

The major setback to SlideShare is that the community is still quite small, which means that user flow is slow and content is lacking. In comparison to the bigger user-based online communities, SlideShare’s content is just not viewed by as many users, with a million views on a single slide show being very rare. Additionally, the amount of content available within the community is simply smaller at the time.

Nonetheless, SlideShare is a developing community that promises at least niche-based, if not mainstream, success. With its wide variety of possible uses and simple organization, SlideShare utilizes many good aspects of similar user-based online communities. In fact, SlideShare has just recently locked in a $3 million investment from the venture capitalist firm Venrock. This financial boost is sure to help alleviate these size problems.  

As the community continues to grow, a snowballing effect may very well bring SlideShare to the “Bookmarks” tab of many Internet surfers.

In the near future, we will see if this non-fancy name comes to Internet fame.  


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