Prezi Adds 2M Users in 2 Months, Introduces New Cinematic Effects

Post-PowerPoint presentation tool Prezi today unveiled that it has now reached 12 million users, adding two million in the relatively short period of time since it hit 10 million back at the end of April. The company’s growth continues to map on an upwards curve, suggesting adoption of its web-based, non-linear presentation software is only set to continue trending upward. To help fuel that growth, the startup continues to introduce new features, including a new effects that add a more cinematic quality to Prezi presentations.

The new features include the ability to use a background image on a different plane from other presentation elements (three layers of depth are possible, in fact). This lends a 3D vibe to Prezis, making it look as if you’re looking at a things from a moving car as they zoom past your window, for instance. The other new feature is the addition of reveal elements, so users can set items in their Prezi to fade in as they progress through their presentation. It’s a small change, but together both add some considerable dramatic effect to what users can build with Prezi.

In an interview, Prezi founder and CEO Peter Arvai walked BetaKit through the new features and explained that the company believes it’s important to always be focusing on what they can do to make the user experience even better. That’s what’s helped the company find so much success so quickly.

“We’ve actually been cash-flow positive since year one, there are more than 12 million users by now, and there’s more than one Prezi created every second,” Arvai said. “In the last year we added as many users as we did in the previous two, so it’s just been a wonderful development for us.” He also pointed out that a number of technical and instructional manuals about how to make Prezis are cropping up (including a Prezi for Dummies title), a sure sign that it’s beginning to seep in to the mass market consciousness.

As for the source of Prezi’s impressive growth, Arvai noted that a lot of it is coming from a couple specific areas (marketing and education), but that the startup is also seeing a lot of uses they never could’ve predicted at launch. Essentially, if people need a creative way to explain, illustrate, or collaborate on an idea or product, they’re using Prezi to do it.

“Based on this new spatial metaphor of communicating, there’s all these people using Prezi, like professional speakers at TED,” Arvai said. “But they aren’t the only ones. Chip Conley is an author who’s promoting a recent book around the country using Prezi; the Startup Weekend guys are working with Prezi to help young entrepreneurs getting started with the creative process. Besides that, we see that ordinary people just use Prezi to tell stories from their everyday life that are important to them.”

As Prezi builds its following, the key to gaining wide adoption will continue to be an emphasis on usability, simplicity and a focus on making it painless to migrate from existing products. Thanks to the recent introduction of PowerPoint presentation imports, that should be less of a barrier. The only challenge might be convincing linear thinkers that a cloud-based, relatively free-form creative product really is as much at home in the boardroom as it is in the ad agency or artist’s studio.

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