Goodbye, Prezi

I’m sorry to report that we are dropping support for Prezi.

Prezi captivated presenters everywhere with its fresh zooming approach to presentations. Their vision: Your message can be expressed in a limitless expanse. We were such big fans! We evangelized. In 2010 we brought them in as guest speakers to the Presentation Summit — a PowerPoint lair.

Sadly, their technology and business decisions regarding other companies like ours are not as inspiring.

While Steve Jobs effectively killed the future of Adobe’s Flash platform, and hundreds of other companies began to embrace the need to convert to HTML5, a few brave souls like Prezi are holding out. We’ve been working on replacing Flash, and are almost ready. This matters because while all platforms (Android, iOS, Windows, etc) will support web standards for many years, investment (and hence innovation) in Flash will wither. Adobe says Flash is best for games and video. Windows 8 Metro will only support approved Flash sites, because Microsoft research found that Flash’s primary role on the web was that of “advertising delivery mechanism”.

We would be thrilled to keep Flash SWF exports around just because Prezi is so cool, but Prezi keeps quietly changing stuff and breaking our Prezi export.

Prezi Blocks Poll Everywhere

There’s over 30 different topics on their support forum where people have asked for help making Poll Everywhere and Prezi work together, so we considered it important. We asked for a small amount of engineering support from them, and some of their engineers were really nice (we got about 40 minutes of help across 5 emails), but their business folks always warned us it would just die someday. That day has come, and they confirmed that there’s no desire to support useful active objects from other services at the present time.

While Prezi is usually user-focused, there are a few interesting counterexamples. When customer needs and business strategy conflict, strategy sometimes wins. For example, you can use a somewhat serviceable PowerPoint import, but they have never helped the droves of users who want to put some Prezi in their PowerPoint (we know it’s actually simple to offer – we use the same SWF-in-PowerPoint technique).

We accept that Prezi has to lose the cool quirks to acquire the next 15M users. They’re losing the bubble menu, and they now have a boring vertical slidesorter-esque sidebar like all other slideware. That’s probably good for the community, and maybe if they continue to grow, they’ll find resources to provide an API.

We think Prezi will be a success. Maybe they’ll even offer their own polling someday. But while Prezi itself is innovative, they are not currently an interesting platform for 3rd party innovation, even though they wish others would help them out in the same way. Everybody wants to climb the food chain.

We’re very sorry for the many presenters and educators who so badly wanted this to work. We tried our best. We suggest you just link to your poll from within Prezi instead.

About Jeff

Jeff, CEO and co-founder, learned the power of engagement as a Deloitte consultant and the CIO of a school district in Guatemala. Jeff holds a B.S. in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois and an MBA from MIT Sloan.

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