VMware Sells SlideRocket To Up-And-Coming Cloud Startup ClearSlide


VMware has sold its SlideRocket SaaS presentation business to San Francisco-based startup ClearSlide, bringing to an end its short-lived campaign to free the world from the mind-numbing effects of Microsoft PowerPoint usage.

VMware acquired San Francisco-based SlideRocket in April 2011, touting it as a cloud-centric alternative to traditional business presentation software. By adding video, rich media, audio and analytics to the mix, SlideRocket sought to give organizations a more interactive way to present their ideas than they could get with PowerPoint -- one that would work on any device.

ClearSlide, which makes cloud-based sales engagement software, plans to integrate SlideRocket's rich media features and analytics into its platform, the vendor said in a Wednesday press release announcing the acquisition. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.

[Related: VMware Taking Fight To Amazon With Top-Secret Public Cloud Project]

"ClearSlide is excited to extend the SlideRocket content creation capabilities to sales teams who need to communicate with interactive media to their customers and accelerate the sales cycle," Al Lieb, CEO of ClearSlide, said in a Wednesday blog post.

SlideRocket, along with SocialCast and Zimbra, was part of VMware's bid to build a set of SaaS apps that were free from any ties to Windows.

Former VMware CEO Paul Maritz saw these apps as necessary in the "post-PC era," and in a June 2011 interview with CRN, he described them as VMware's attempt to "shoot ahead and take some risks."

"We think there are big changes coming in both how applications are developed and how they're provisioned and consumed. And this is the time to try and get ahead, and that's what we're doing with those acquisitions," Maritz told CRN at the time.

But, that vision never panned out, and Maritz's plan looks to have been put on indefinite hold. VMware in January labeled SlideRocket a non-strategic business and suggested its employees could be part of the 900 job cuts it is planning to make this year.

ClearSlide and VMware plan to continue maintaining the SlideRocket service "for some period of time" until the integration of SlideRocket features and functionality is complete, according to a ClearSlide FAQ.

As for the future of SlideRocket's free service, ClearSlide says it is "evaluating changes" to SlideRocket's offerings and will inform customers of its decision in the next 30 days.

ClearSlide last August scored a $28 million Series B round of funding led by Bessemer Venture Partners, with existing investors Greylock Partners and Felicis Ventures also taking part. ClearSlide has raised around $39 million to date.

PUBLISHED MARCH 5, 2013

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