Whether you’re in an office or remote, getting and keeping your co-workers’ attention in meetings is one of the biggest challenges out there. But what if your presentations looked like Instagram stories? Introducing Tome, a new presentation tool. It launched today, announcing $32 million in funding from Greylock and Coatue.
Tome calls itself a “modern storytelling tool for work,” and its pitch in a nutshell is to make building workplace presentations as intuitive as social media. Co-founders Keith Peiris and Henri Liriani both come from the consumer social media world: Peiris worked on Instagram’s augmented-reality camera, and Liriani helped redesign Facebook Messenger. Peiris said the two always felt that Meta’s rich storytelling products didn’t match the way employees presented information internally.
“The stuff that we’re building for our users is pretty incredible,” Peiris said. “But when we were making decisions inside of Instagram, we were using the slide format from the ‘80s.”
Tome isn’t the only tool that’s sick of the slide deck. It’s entering an already crowded race for the future of workplace presentations. Tools like Prezi, mmhmm and Brandlive want to bring the charisma of TV to presentations. Others, like Beautiful.ai, want to help us design slides like a pro. For many in the workplace, though, classic tools like PowerPoint or Google Slides work just fine. Not everyone prioritizes putting effort into creating eye-catching internal presentations.
Peiris said Greylock partner and LinkedIn co-founder Reid Hoffman was initially skeptical about Tome’s ability to disrupt the presentation tool space. “But it was funny, we started building the prototype and showing it to people, and we just kept hearing: ‘Build this thing and we'll pay for it,’” Peiris said. He and Liriani raised some seed money and started hiring folks from Instagram, Facebook, Pinterest and Pokémon Go, to name a few.
The app still uses “slides” as its core presentation components. But each slide in a presentation might look different. You can make your slide as long as a website page. You can drag in four or five videos that sync up to each other. You can embed a 3D model and sprinkle it with annotations. Tome also allows users to integrate design elements from other tools: Figma docs, Airtable databases, YouTube videos. “We wanted to build this format from the beginning so you could hook it up to the source and not have to screenshot every week and put stuff out of date,” Peiris said.
Tome isn’t the only tool that’s sick of the slide deck.Image: Tome
Tome’s biggest selling point is flexibility across platform types and devices: desktop, tablet or phone. The team designed the mobile-viewing experience first, an unusual move for a workplace tool. Our phones are becoming an increasingly useful place to do work: They travel with us throughout the day, and aren’t reliant on Wi-Fi. You can tap through Tome presentations like a friend’s Instagram story, and react with comments or videos shot directly on your phone. The presenter can also see who opened their Tome. You can’t build Tomes on mobile just yet, but Peiris expects that feature to be ready over the summer.
The mobile experience has been particularly valuable for Snapchat’s design team, Peiris said. “All of their design work is on mobile,” Peiris said. “They can open a Tome up, see it in the right size and then give feedback on it.”
Tome's pitch is to make building workplace presentations as intuitive as social media.Image: Tome
You can present Tomes from the browser, or you can present from the mobile app using AirPlay. Peiris said his team designed it for both synchronous and asynchronous presentations, but he’s been especially excited to see remote teams sending each other Tomes outside of meetings. You can overlay a video of yourself in Tome slides, or you can let the presentation speak for itself.
Tome is two years in the making, finding early adopters at companies like Stripe, Notion and Snap. It’s still in a beta phase, with the team adding new features and final touches. During this period, Tome will be free and open to everyone. Peiris said Tome will revert to a “conventional SaaS pricing model” later this year.
The workplace doesn’t need Netflix-like presentations or even more beautiful slides, Peiris says. It needs a tool that’s easy to use and most effectively gets your message across.
“We're completely focused on the power in great storytelling,” Peiris said. “So hopefully you put the least amount of effort into Tome to get the most persuasive artifact.”