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VMware Exits Collaboration Market With Sale of SlideRocket To Clearslide, A Sales Engagement Platform

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VMware is exiting the collaboration market with the sale of SlideRocket to Clearslide, which will use the rich slide creation too to buttress its service that offers sales people presentation capabilities to better engage with customers.

Clearslide, a fast growing startup with $39 million in funding, will integrate the cloud-based online presentation application into its own service. SldieRocket is known for its  rich features that help people  produces slideshows that rival PowerPoint. At the time of SlideRocket’s acquisition, more than 20,000 customers and 300,000 users leveraged the service to more effectively build, deliver and share presentations

The majority of the SlideRocket team will go to Clearslide, which now has 150 employees and plans to have about 250 by the end of the year. The company has  made a mark  for itself through its capability for sales people to easily upload their sales collateral to the engagement platform. Sales teams edit and share information in a collaborative manner, designed for the sales process.

Clearslide offers analytics that show how the presentation was accepted by customers. That data can then be used to determine what sales presentations are more effective than others. It also serves as a coaching tool to improve a sales person’s effectiveness.

The deal was completed last week. Acquisition details were not disclosed.

The sale represents a changing shift in focus for VMware, the virtualization giant that in 2011 showed a deep interest in entering the collaboration market. But soon after the acquisition, there came the realization that VMware’s best opportunity was still in core infrastructure, said Chuck Dietrich, GM and VP at VMware, who served as CEO for the company. Dietrich was one of the original people hired when SlideRocket launched in 2009. That became evident in VMware’s focus on its attention in building a cloud software suite that banked on making its virtualization technology more suited to elastic infrastructures. Today, VMware’s core message is about the “software defined data center,” a concept that has captured significant attention from providers in the software, storage and networking market. The shift represents a deeper market realization that data loads are intensifying and the need is apparent to build out Internet scale infrastructures to manage the workloads.

In turn, the company  made the decision to scale back its plans for SlideRocket. As part of that decision, VMware kept SlideRocket autonomous, which Dietrich said has helped the company immensely. It continued to grow and put it in a position to be sold to Clearslide, where it will be more fully utilized.

The deal does raise questions about VMware Horizon, its suite of tools that gives IT control over what services its employees uses. Around the time of the SlideRocket acquisition, VMware also acquired Socialcast, an activity stream service. Dietrich made the point that Socialcast fits into VMware’s new focus as its technology as it is a communications tool that has uses for IT and wider applicability across an organization.

The collaboration market has changed a lot since SlideRocket’s heyday. It’s evident in Clearslide, which has built a service that has a specific use for sales people to do better presentations that can be optimized through the use of data analytics.

Dietrich makes the point that collaboration tools are becoming part of the overall process for the way we do all of our work. It’s this trend that may see “social,” maturing into one identity protocol, similar to the way active directory has emerged as the authentication gateway for users in a Windows network.

That reality is playing out in the market as evident in Okta’s success and Salesforce.com’s launch of its own identity service.