VC admits he hates boring PowerPoints

The coolest new product I saw at the Under the Radar conference was SlideRocket. It wasn’t just me, either. They won best of show overall as rated by both the judges as well as the audience. In this video you’ll hear me talking with Mitch Grasso, CEO of SlideRocket.

At one point in his presentation he really got my attention when he put a table on his presentation, just like Microsoft Powerpoint lets you do, but then hooked it up to live data from a Google Spreadsheet and the table filled in with live data. SlideRocket is a presentation system (works both in a browser as well as an Adobe AIR app) that looks a bit like PowerPoint, albeit with some cool new effects and collaboration built in, along with the ability to hook up to Web Services with a click of the mouse. He did the same thing with data from Salesforce. Oh, my. He had me eating out of his hand at that point.

Anyway, this isn’t really why I turned on my cell phone camera. Why did I do that? Well, the investor in SlideRocket was there. Who’s that? Mitchell Kurtzman, now a partner in Hummer Winblad (used to be CEO of Liberate and Powersoft) told me he hates boring PowerPoint slides.

Whoa.

At PodTech the CFO told me to be quiet when I told them that their Powerpoints should look like Steve Jobs did them. He wanted the boring “pack tons of points onto one slide with a boring, conservative background.” You know the type. Bill Gates used those in most of his talks.

I knew VCs wanted a great story and wanted the same thing we all want: to be a little entertained. It’s just that I didn’t have proof until today.

“There’s nothing deadlier than having a lot of text on a slide and then reading every word to us,” he says in the video before giving us more background about what VCs do want to see in their slide decks.

This is a short video, only 3:45 minutes, but here it is. “Tell a story.”

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First Look: ZigTag, semantic bookmarking service

I was really tired after my interview of Werner Voegels, CTO of Amazon. CNET filmed it, so that should be up soon.

But after the interview Scott Montgomerie, president of ZigTag, showed me his new service, which is a bookmarking tool. Competes with Del.icio.us. You can hear my voice dragging at the beginning of the video I shot on my cell phone. I just didn’t want to get pitched another thing, especially not a copy of something that’s already pretty successful like del.icio.us.

But over the 12-minute demo you hear me come alive cause this was cool. Why? Because it helps you come up with much better tags, and search for them.

55 minutes inside Microsoft Research’s new “#99” building

Everytime I watch one of my own videos I see something that I could improve.

Microsoft Research's new building "99"

We spent half a day at Microsoft Research’s new building getting a video tour of the new building. Kevin Schofield, General Manager, gave us an awesome tour and introduced us to several of Microsoft’s smartest people.

This video is the result.

One problem: it’s way too long. Pretty interesting stuff in there, if you hang out for the 55 minutes, but it would have been better to chop it up to its component parts, rather than try to run it all together.

Actually doing that would help us with Google, too. Google rewards atoms, not molecules (this video is a molecule).

So, what are the atoms?

Microsoft Research

Atom One: 00:00-2:55 Kevin Schofield giving us an introduction to the building.

Equations

Atom Two: 2:55 – 06:57 Martha Clarkson, who helped design parts of the building, explains some of the innovations in the building (and there are many)

Jennifer Chayes and Christian Borgs, Microsoft Researchers

Atom Three: 06:57-19:59 Jennifer Chayes and Christian Borgs, theory researchers talk with me about their research, about building a new research center in New England (which they are heading up and which will use many of the same things in their new building that were done here).

Microsoft sign outside building 99

Atom Four: 19:59-30:07 Kevin Schofield continues his tour, showing us several things in the building that the researchers themselves helped design.

Anechoic chamber at Microsoft Research, Phil Chou

Atom Five: 30:07- 39:12 Schofield brings us into the signal processing group, where we get a look at the anechoic chamber (sound proof room) and he introduces us to Phil Chou, principal researcher in the signal processing group. You can really hear why TV studios try to build sound-absorption systems in. The audio gets noticeably better.

Lots of moveable partitions

Atom Six: 39:12-41:52 Schofield explains why Research builds hardware and gives us more insights into the building and shows us some of the work areas in the new building.

Rocky shoots Andy Wilson, researcher at Microsoft

Atom Seven: 41:52 Schofield takes us into meet Andy Wilson. If you haven’t seen my videos before, you might not know that Andy is doing probably the most bleeding edge work at Microsoft (he build the Surface table-top computer which you touch with your hands). If you only watch one part, you’ve gotta check out his lab in the new building.

Kevin Schofield at Microsoft Research

Atom Eight: 50:51-55:05 Schofield talks about how they built a public area of the building so that groups, even outside ones, can have meetings inside the new building and concludes the tour.

Thanks for hanging in there through the 55 minute video. We’ll work on the UI so we can cut these things up into smaller pieces and still bring you most of the good stuff.