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Prezi tries again to get companies to change their presentations

Prezi tries again to get companies to change their presentations

Prezi Business brings tools like live presentation and analytics to the PowerPoint competitor

Prezi, the seven-year-old startup that aims to reinvent the way that people make presentations, has launched a new business-focused offering that's aimed at getting companies to use its software instead of rivals like PowerPoint. 

Teams that sign up for Prezi Business will get several new features, including the ability to present over the Web, analytics to understand how different parts of presentations fly with audiences, and real-time collaboration. 

It's a major push for the presentation software company, which is competing against the likes of Microsoft, Google and Apple with a cloud-based tool that pans and zooms through a canvas, rather than showing an audience a series of slides. Prezi CEO Peter Arvai argued in an interview that the software's ability to easily show relationships between presentation elements makes it a more effective tool for convincing an audience.

Prezi has plenty of usage, especially in the consumer space, but it hasn't taken over the halls of business yet. Prezi's business-focused pitch is another attempt by it to try and get companies to pick up its software, building on its Prezi for Teams offering that is currently paid for by 8,000 companies.

Arvai said that Prezi Business was created in part to help support a fleet of millennial users who started presenting with Prezi when they were in school and who now want to bring those tools into the business sphere. 

But it's quite one thing to support an insurgent millennial user base, and another to force the remaining people inside a company or team to also get on board with Prezi. Its interface is something between applications like PowerPoint and a graphics program like Photoshop, which means people who are used to building PowerPoint presentations will have to learn a new interface. 

There are pre-existing templates that will help users get started, and Prezi will offer training to companies as part of the offering.

According to Arvai, Prezi has 75 million users, and has been used to create 260 million presentations. Those presentations have racked up 1.6 billion views over the company's lifetime.

However, the company won't say how many of those Prezis ever get presented, or how many of those users remain active over the course of the company's seven-year history. When asked for more information about the numbers, Arvai dodged the question, saying that the company was cash flow positive. 

Prezi doesn't have a monopoly on visual storytelling, and skilled PowerPoint presenters may be more at home with old tools that they're familiar with. (Steve Jobs managed to pull off widely lauded presentations while still being beholden to the slide-based nature of Apple's Keynote software.)

Then there's the issue of paying for Prezi Business. The company plans to charge US$50 per user per month for Prezi Business, since it's including not only the presentation software but also the analytics, streaming and collaboration components in that package. On top of that, Prezi will also provide services to customers including training and design assistance. 

Even so, the company is going to be competing for business against the likes of Microsoft, which charges $35 per user per month for its most expensive Office 365 Enterprise plan. That may not be an issue if companies are interested in all the other features bundled into the service, but it may be a tough sell to some businesses that only want to pay for one set of productivity tools.

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