– Subrah S. Iyar (b. 1957) is a leading technocrat, entrepreneur and Web conferencing pioneer of Indian origin. He is the founder and CEO of WebEx which has recently merged with Cisco Systems.
Subrah S. Iyar was born and brought up in Mumbai, in a Tamil family. He did his schooling in Mumbai and graduated from the Indian Institute of Technology. On completion of his graduation he moved to the US in 1982. He worked with Intel, Apple Inc., Quarterdeck, and Teleos Research prior to the establishment of WebEx.
Founding of WebEx
Iyar chose to take the path of an entrepreneur in 1996, when he founded WebEx in partnership with Min Zhu.
The founding of the company by Subrah Iyar was fuelled by a new-found interest in web conferencing. Min Zhu, a Stanford-trained System Engineer had been struggling to develop a web-conferencing tool. Coincidentally, during this time, he befriended Subrah Iyar who was running Quarterdeck’s research lab and the two formed a partnership.
Growth of WebEx
WebEx struggled to make a profit in its early days, largely because of low bandwidth. However, with the advancement of technology and the shift to broadband technology, it began to emerge as a potent competitor with clients such as Hoover’s Online, Oracle and Tibco Software. WebEx went on to receive its first funding of $25 million in December 1999.
As a result of the new ideas propounded by Subrah Iyer, 2000 became a honeymoon year for WebEx. The revenues crossed the million mark and Subrah Iyar’s own net worth rocketed from a paltry $450,000 in January 2000 to $129 million in November 2000. When enquired about it in an interview at a later stage, Subrah Iyar remarked: “It didn’t get too scary, because I knew we had done everything based on fundamentals. You always have a feeling of uncertainty. But it was never a feeling of terror.”
In 2003, when Microsoft purchased conferencing company Placeware it was thought to be the end of the road for Subrah Iyar and WebEx. However, WebEx survived and completed a $45 million acquisition of Intranets.com in 2005. In fact, as per the company website, more than 3.5 million people use Cisco’s WebEx products every month to communicate and collaborate online.
On March 15, 2007, Cisco Systems purchased WebEx for $3.2 billion.
Founding of Moxtra
In 2012, Iyar became Co-Founder and CEO of Moxtra, Inc. While working at WebEx, Iyer noted the need for the adhoc meeting for people on the move, it was this need that lead to the inspiration of the Moxtra app. Moxtra is a mobile content collaboration app that received its first round of funding by Cisco and KDDI from Japan.