Country of origin: India
Year came to U.S.: 1982
Education: Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai
Headquarters: San Jose, CA (Cisco)
2011 revenue: $600 million (estimated)
U.S. employment: 37,300 (as part of Cisco Systems)
According to a loyal customer, Iyar is “energetic, sincere and charming, and he doesn’t quit.”
More than 3.5 million people use WebEx products every month to communicate and collaborate online.
Venture capital funding worth $25 million in 1999 helped to expand what is now the world’s most-used web-conferencing brand. When WebEx was bought by Cisco Systems in 2007, the cost was $3.2 billion.
One of the two pioneers behind WebEx is a savvy salesman and high-tech entrepreneur from India named Subrah S. Iyar.
Iyar is descended from Tamil immigrants who had migrated to Mumbai. After graduating from the Indian Institute of Technology-Mumbai, he moved to the United States and worked at Intel, Apple Inc., Quarterdeck and Teleos Research.
In the 1990s, he was befriended by Stanford-trained system engineer Min Zhu, who needed help developing and selling his web-conferencing tool. In 1996, they launched WebEx Communications.
The company struggled to make a profit in its early days, largely because of low bandwidth. With the advancement of technology and the shift to broadband, it emerged as a potent competitor with clients such as Hoover’s Online, Oracle and Tibco Software.
When WebEx received its first funding of $25 million in 1999, Iyar was able to implement many of his ideas and strategies for the company and revenues crossed the $1 million mark. Iyar’s own net worth rocketed from $450,000 in January 2000 to $129 million in November 2000.
Despite the uncertainty surrounding Microsoft’s purchase of a competitive conferencing company Placeware in 2003, Iyar’s leadership saw WebEx through. According to the company’s website, 71 million people use WebEx products every month to communicate and collaborate online.
Iyar’s next business looks to follow the same path to success. He launched the collaboration platform provider, Moxtra, in 2013, and Citigroup awarded Moxtra the Best Client Engagement Tool at the APAC Citi Mobile Challenge in 2016.