Introducing SlideShare: Power Point + YouTube

SlideShare is a new service launching this morning that lets users upload PowerPoint or Open Office presentationi files and share them online through a You Tube-like interface.

Power Point documents (or any office documents) stored on the web with a permanent URL are a valuable resource. No need to email the file to recipients, or carry a copy around on a USB drive. The presentation can easily be shared (and with permission controls, kept relatively secure).

The potential uses of online Power Point documents are numerous – from making sales pitches, lectures and conference presentations much easier, to having a permanent record of these and other presentations available on the Internet for easy access and reference.

Today, WebEx and its competitors fill some of the market demand for remote presentations, but they do not provide for online storage and archiving. We’ve covered two startups in the remote presentation space, DimDim and TeamSlide.

Online Power Point/Presentation solutions are also tackling this problem, from a different direction. They provide basic tools for creating presentations (and sometimes allow uploading of Power Point files). They also place a permanent URL on the file and allow archiving and sharing. See our profiles on Zoho Show, Empressr and Thumbstacks.

A problem, though, with the online presentation services is that the tools for creating presentations are difficult to develop within the limitations of Flash and/or Ajax. In our reviews, we’ve seen a lot of development effort go into producing these tools, which still fall short of what’s available from desktop software. Less attention is given to the actual presentation interface, and as a result those products are, so far, less than perfect.

SlideShare seems like a perfect solution, at least until online tools like Zoho rival the desktop applications. I uploaded a test Power Point presentation in a few seconds, and after a few seconds more of processing time it was available for viewing. I’ve also embedded the presentation immediately below.

There are a number of limitations on the service. Files cannot be larger than 20 MB, there are no sharing or privacy options, and the original presentations cannot be downloaded by the publisher or by viewers. I also was unable to edit the file after uploading (even though the feature exists, I could not make it save the changes properly). The company says they’ll increase file size limitations soon, and privacy, sharing and download options will be added shortly.

On the plus side: Files can be tagged, and comments left by viewers. Each slide has its own permanent URL for reference. For example, the second slide of my presentation above can be viewed here (simply add /page# after the presentation URL). If you are using unsupported presentation software (such as Keynote for Apple), simply export the file to PPT format before uploading to SlideShare.

SlideShare is clean, fast and functional and supports various copyright claims, including creative commons. I’ll be using it to post presentations I give at future conferences for archiving purposes. In addition, if any company requesting a profile on TechCrunch would like to send a presentation deck for public viewing, I’ll show that presentation in the TechCrunch profile using SlideShare.

Thanks Ross for the introduction and for the idea of showing company pitches on TechCrunch using SlideShare.

Update: Tonicpoint is another online PowerPoint application that we’ve recently heard about.