Prezi Ratchets Up Pressure On PowerPoint

Last night, San Francisco-based Prezi did its best to bring back the good ol’ days of the late 1990s, when companies needed little excuse to throw a tech party.

The company held a bash for about 50 people at the Bubble Lounge in San Francisco in which it announced its latest product, called Prezi Meeting. The new product builds on the company’s initial effort, a Flash-based online presentation tool that is an alternative to Microsoft’s PowerPoint program.

Prezi Meeting allows up to 10 people on separate computers to access and work on a single Prezi presentation at the same time — easily adding and moving around charts, pictures and videos. A demo video is posted below.

CEO Peter Arval (pictured) says that more than 1 million users—such as corporations, teachers and others—have logged onto the site to develop presentations since the company was launched in Budapest in early 2009.

Among the users is The Sapling Group, owners of the TED and TEDx conferences. Sapling is also an investor in Prezi, and Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey serves as an advisor to the company.

Last night, the reception at the party was a thumbs up, for not only the party, but the software, too.

Robert Scoble calls it very cool. Because it’s Flash-based, however, there is no iPad version currently. But I can imagine that iPad users would go nuts over it. Similar to how Flipboard seems aptly suited for the touch-screen technology on the tablet, it would make sense if iPad users could build a presentation using Prezi. A Prezi spokeswoman acknowledges that there would be demand to build an iPad version—although it would have to get around the use of Adobe Flash, which Apple does not allow on its iPads or iPhones—but the company is not saying when such a version would be available.

Arval says the company is already cash-flow positive, and he has no plans to raise additional funding. Before it relocated from Budapest to San Francisco late last year, Prezi raised an undisclosed amount of funding from Sapling and Sunstone Capital, a Danish VC firm.

When asked why the company moved to the United States, Arval said it is the logical next step for many European startups to think about moving to a larger market, such as the U.K., France or Germany. “But that’s a mistake,” he says. “If you want to be a major player in any kind of tech industry, you have to come to the U.S. This is where the largest market is.”