SlideShare Sale is a Big Win for Venrock, Sees Return Of More Than 15x

SlideShare sold to LinkedIn today in a deal valued at $118.75 million, producing a return of more than 15x for the startup’s sole venture backer – Venrock Associates.

SlideShare raised a seed round of $300,000 in January 2008 from Ariel Poler, Hal Varian, Yee Lee, Jonathan Abrams, Saul Klein and Mark Cuban, according to CrunchBase. Venrock then invested $2.7 million in a Series A two months later, CrunchBase reports.

Venrock will see a return of more than 15x on its investment after just four years, says Brian Ascher, a Venrock partner who sits on SlideShare’s board. The investment was made from Venrock’s fund V.

Venrock’s investment in SlideShare was made by former Partner David Siminoff and former Vice President Dev Khare. (Siminoff is now “chief creative officer” of Shmoop, an educational website he co-founded, and Khare is a principal in the India office of Lightspeed Ventures.)

Ascher said the credit for the successful outcome goes to SlideShare’s founders, CEO Rashmi Sinha, CTO Jonathan Boutelle, and COO Amit Ranjan. “If you invest in a team that is very capital efficient and very focused on building a profitable company, you can do it in a way where neither party is significantly diluted — and outcomes in this range make everyone happy,” Ascher says.

The SlideShare team kept costs low by doing development in India, not spending money on their own hosting infrastructure and by focusing on viral growth instead of spending money on marketing, he says.

The company, founded in October 2006, nearly reached break-even in 2010 and was “solidly profitable” as of last year, Ascher says. “They were able to turn profitable because they focused on keeping costs down and making sure they had a real revenue model based on advertising and subscriptions.”

Another takeaway from the successful exit was that it “proves again that oftentimes being close to a strategic partner is a likely path to an exit,” Ascher says. SlideShare is a featured application on the LinkedIn platform.

San Francisco-based SlideShare allows people to share PowerPoint presentations and other documents online. It says that it is the world’s largest community for sharing presentations, with 60 million monthly visitors and 130 million page views. The service fits very naturally with LinkedIn, a business network. “Rashmi [Sinha, the company's CEO] described it as photos are for Facebook,” Ascher says. “That really captures the potential here.”

LinkedIn said in a statement that it is paying for SlideShare with 45% cash and 55% stock. The deal is expected to close in the current quarter.

“Presentations are one of the main ways in which professionals capture and share their experiences and knowledge, which in turn helps shape their professional identity,” LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner said in a press release. “These presentations also enable professionals to discover new connections and gain the insights they need to become more productive and successful in their careers, aligning perfectly with LinkedIn’s mission and helping us deliver even more value for our members.”

Image credit: Presentation concept photo courtesy of ShutterStock

 

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