SlideShare, the presentation-sharing platform owned by LinkedIn, announced last week that it is making many of its PRO level features free. The change is effective August 20, 2014.
This change means that all users with SlideShare accounts will have access to most premium features. Those who had been paying for PRO accounts no longer have to pay. Some PRO features are being discontinued or changed, however.
SlideShare  is popular with content marketers in companies that sell to other businesses (business-to-business). Many in the B2B world make frequent use of PowerPoint and Google presentations. SlideShare is a place you can share those presentations with the world. You can also upload videos, documents and infographics.
SlideShare hosts the uploaded content assets in a share-friendly way. For example, you can allow members of the public to embed your SlideShare presentations on their own blogs or social profiles.
SlideShare representative Amit Sawhney said  on the SlideShare Official Blog that starting in September, a new premium feature will be rolled out each month to all SlideShare members. One of those features will be customized profiles. Users will have the ability to upload a customized banner and create a branded profile (see image above). They also will be able to decide which presentations to make more prominent on the page.
Expanded analytics are another SlideShare premium feature opened up to everyone. SlideShare’s analytics show where traffic to your presentations is coming from. You can see the visitor’s location. You also see how many views and embeds content is getting (see above).
Expect Sponsored Slideshows and More Ads
SlideShare is moving away from the subscription revenue model, and appears to be ramping up for advertising and sponsorship revenue.
One clue comes from the latest Q2 earnings call for parent company LinkedIn. In the only time SlideShare was mentioned in the call, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner pointed to sponsored content:
“With regard to sponsored content beyond the home page on mobile and of course the home page on desktop, yes, there are going to be opportunities to distribute sponsored content in alternative products and services. One of the areas we can explore there is the publishing platform, and that’s not just going to be LinkedIn post, LinkedIn publisher post, but also environments like SlideShare and some of our new applications that are consistent with our multiapp strategy.”
To maximize sponsored content revenue, SlideShare will need more active users. LinkedIn has 313 million users, whereas SlideShare reports 60 million global users. Also, for businesses to find value in the platform, they are going to want those expanded analytics.
Lead Generation Becomes a Paid Enterprise Feature
One PRO feature that will not be made available for free is SlideShare’s lead generation feature. This lets you collect email leads. It will become part of the LinkedIn Enterprise solution in early 2015, according to Sawhney. Former PRO users can still get it for a while longer, at no charge. However, come early 2015, you’ll have to pay for LinkedIn Enterprise if you want to generate leads.
Some PRO features are being discontinued. Among other things, users will no longer have the ability to remove ads.
SlideShare’s move was in the works for some time before the official announcement. Recent visitors to SlideShare who tried to sign up for PRO accounts saw a message saying the company was no longer accepting PRO signups. SlideShare stopped charging existing PRO users back in May. We verified that our own Small Business Trends PRO account has not been charged since May. To check your old invoices, go here.
Those who paid ahead for annual subscriptions will receive prorated refunds, according to Sawhney.
PRO accounts were introduced in 2010 when SlideShare was still privately owned. LinkedIn then bought the company in 2012 for $119 million.
See related article: How to Use SlideShare for Marketing and Generating Leads .