World's largest professional networking site LinkedIn is acquiring the presentation sharing platform SlideShare, co-founded by persons of Indian origin, for $118.75 million in a stock-cum-cash deal. This includes 45 per cent or around $53.4 million to be paid in cash and the rest through LinkedIn shares.
At the current market price, it would translate into holding around 0.5 per cent for SlideShare equity owners, according to VCCircle estimates. The acquisition is expected to close during Q2, 2012 or within the next eight weeks.
Rashmi Sinha, CEO of SlideShare, said, "We built SlideShare to help professionals share presentations and connect people through the content. What we can build with LinkedIn is the most natural extension of this vision."
Before SlideShare, Sinha, a PhD in Cognitive Neuropsychology from Brown University, had also built MindCanvas, a game-like survey platform for customer research. On the other hand, Ranjan, an MBA from FMS Delhi, had a career in consumer goods marketing and sales. His previous employers included PepsiCo, Asian Paints and Godrej. Boutelle holds a degree in Psychology and Computer Science from Brown University and worked for several years as a software engineer at Commerce One, before co-founding SlideShare.
SlideShare enables professionals to upload content for free, discover people through content and vice versa. With it, users can upload presentations publicly or privately, download presentations on any topic and reuse or remix, embed presentations on blogs, websites, company intranets or share them on Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn and even embed YouTube videos inside SlideShare presentations, among others. Also, SlideShare Pro users get additional features like branded channels, analytics, ad free pages, etc.
The company is based in San Francisco, California, and claims that its users have uploaded more than 9 million presentations. According to comScore, SlideShare had nearly 29 million unique visitors in March 2012.
The company raised just one round of institutional funding of $3 million four years ago, led by the VC firm Venrock, who would have made a killing in the buyout by LinkedIn (easily 10x returns). That round of funding also included smaller amounts of angel investments from technology stalwarts â€“ Broadcast.com founder Mark Cuban, Friendster founder Jonathan Abrams, David McClure (of 500 Hats), Saul Klein (founding partner of The Accelerator Group & ex Skype VP), Hal Varian (chief economist at Google), Yee Lee (ex Slide.com) and Ariel Poler (former chairman of Stumble Upon).
For LinkedIn, the deal is a clear winner as it adds content to an already bustling professional networking ensemble. It would be interesting to see if and how LinkedIn integrates some of the features/content of SlideShare into its existing network and cross-sell its own site on the presentation sharing site.
The firm, which went public a few months ago, is cash rich and so funding a deal of this size is not a big deal. LinkedIn has a market cap of over $11 billion.