Google buys Zenter (or the online powerpoint space heats up)

I am taking a break from reading blogs, techmeme etc. (try it sometime – its like having a mini-holiday without going anywhere), so it took an email from a friend to find out that Google bought Zenter, another one of those Paul Graham startups. Zenter was focused on online powerpoint authoring, with some community features. There was speculation on TechCrunch that this was an HR buyout – that they just wanted the team, while VentureBeat thinks its for Zenter’s browser based editing and polling features.

I think its curious. Eric Schmidt pretty much demoed Google’s PowerPoint clone at Web 2.0 expo. Why buy another PowerPoint company when their own app is almost ready? What did Zenter have that the Google PPT clone did not? I can speculate (and have some theories), but we will find out soon.

online_powerpoint

As another player in the online PowerPoint space, we are watching this closely. This diagram shows how I see the online PowerPoint space. There are two dimensions – (a) whether its for person to person sharing or for large, open social spaces, and (b) whether the application is for authoring or not. SlideShare is of course, focused on large-scale sharing, rather than the authoring. We think of PowerPoint as social media. There are at least two other players who are similar to us: AuthorStream and SlideBurner. In contrast, SlideAware is a more enterprise approach to online PowerPoint. And then of course, there are the authoring companies – ZohoShow, Empressr, Preezo and Thumbstacks . Google with its online suite now also comprises Tonic Systems and Zenter. Clearly Google is gearing up to fight Microsoft in the PowerPoint space