Accel Leads $14M Round In Cloud-Based, Visual Presentation Software Prezi

Cloud-based presentation software Prezi has raised $14 million in Series B financing led by Accel Partners with Sunstone Capital participating in the round. Accel’s Andrew Braccia will be joining Prezi’s board of directors.

Prezi, which was founded in Budapest, Hungary in 2009 by Adam Somlai-Fischer, Peter Halacsy, and Peter Arvai, essentially brings stunning visualizations into presentations and storytelling. The tool allows you to bypass classic the slide-by-slide presentations created by PowerPoint and create non-linear, story-telling visuals that are animated.

Part of what makes the web application so unique is the ability to visualize your ideas with movement in slides. You can pan left, move right, zoom-in on a detail, or zoom-out to show the big picture, and all of these movements are sleek and unobtrusive. Users can choose from templates or create their own storytelling boards. And you can insert images, videos, YouTube videos, PDFs, and more files to make your presentation more compelling.

The startup recently launched an iPad app, which allows users to use the touch-screen device to present Prezi presentations. The app is now one of iTunes’ top 10 free productivity apps.

So it’s not surprising that the mostly bootstrapped startup has accumulated a customer base of over 7 million registered users and a loyal following (my colleague Robin Wauters is a big fan). Prezi, which is cash-flow positive, has many organizations using its product, from the World Economic Forum to Stanford University and at companies such as Facebook, IBM and Google. TED Conferences actually backed the company with an undisclosed amount of funding and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey among its advisors.

While Prezi is known primarily for its online presentation software, Prezi also offers Prezi Desktop for offline editing, and Prezi Meeting for real-time collaboration.

Prezi CEO Peter Arvai explains that there is a big change taking place in the online productivity market. “People are freely choosing between services like Dropbox, Evernote, and other web-based products when it comes to productivity, and this trend is extending to online presentations.” He explains that traditional slide show options (i.e. Microsoft PowerPoint) are older technologies and there is plenty of room for disruption in the space. “We are trying to reinterpret how you can organize ideas and communicate them effectively and I think we can change the way people think about sharing ideas.”

Braccia agrees; explaining to TechCrunch that it’s time for presentations to change and innovate. He says that he first learned of Prezi when he saw multiple startups in investor presentations to Accel use Prezi as a presentation tool. He met with Arvai and has been working to build a relationship with the company for the past year.

For Accel, Prezi was attractive because it fit into one of the fund’s investment theses, which is the trend of the consumerization of software. “The growth of web services is fundamentally altering the traditionally bundled environments of packaged software. Today’s users want best-of-breed software that makes an impact in the lives of professionals and educators around the world. Prezi is redefining the presentation and communication landscape with its leading suite of online productivity software,” he says.

In the future, Braccia sees international expansion and collaboration features as growth opportunities for the company.

The new funding will be used to hire talent, expanding Prezi across multiple platforms, and widening its global reach.