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Cisco WebEx
Industry Telecommunications software and services
Genre Web conferencing
Founded February 1995
Headquarters Milpitas, California (United States)
Key people
John Chambers (CEO) Frank Calderoni (CFO) Mark Chandler (CCO) Blair Christie (CMO)
Products WebEx Meeting Center, WebEx Training Center, WebEx Support Center, WebEx Event Center, WebEx Sales Center, WebEx Enterprise Edition, WebEx Connect
Revenue $US 380 Million (2006)
Number of employees
10,000+ (2015)
Parent Cisco Systems
Website www.webex.com

Cisco WebEx, formerly WebEx Communications Inc. is a company that provides on-demand collaboration, online meeting, web conferencing and videoconferencing applications. Its products include Meeting Center, Training Center, Event Center, Support Center, Sales Center, MeetMeNow, PCNow, WebEx AIM Pro Business Edition, WebEx WebOffice, and WebEx Connect. All WebEx products are part of the Cisco collaboration portfolio.


WebEx logo used by WebEx as an independent company

Subrah Iyar and Min Zhu founded WebEx in 1996[1] under the name ActiveTouch.[2][verification needed] Zhu had co-founded Future Labs (one of the first companies to produce multi-point document collaboration software) in 1991.[3] Zhu met Iyar, then a vice-president and general manager of Quarterdeck, when Quarterdeck acquired Future Labs in 1996. Iyar was named president of Future Labs, which had become a Quarterdeck subsidiary, and the same year Iyar and Zhu went on to co-found WebEx. On March 15, 2007, Cisco Systems announced it would acquire WebEx for $3.2 billion.[4]

David Thompson, the first vice president of marketing at Activetouch, coined the name WebEx in late 1998 as the company transitioned from its original software business model to relaunch as a Saas company in 1999. Traveling Software which changed its name in September 1999 to LapLink Software Inc.,[5] originally owned a software product called WebEx, which shipped to the public in June 1996. The LapLink product called WebEx was a utility to be run as a companion to be used for offline web-browsing, a feature subsequently integrated within most commercial modern-day Web browsers.[6]

Traveling Software registered the WebEx trademark in May 1996.[7] In 1999, after the original founder of LapLink returned as CEO, Traveling Software/LapLink.com sold the rights to the WebEx name to the company known as WebEx.[8]


Before the purchase by Cisco, WebEx was featured in the NASDAQ Global Select Market.[9]

Cisco acquisition[edit]

On March 15, 2007, Cisco Systems announced that it had agreed to pay $57 per share to acquire WebEx. The deal valued WebEx at about $3.2 billion, or $2.9 billion with WebEx's cash reserves factored into the price. WebEx's largest stockholder is Jan Baan with 9% of outstanding shares. In a press release Cisco said WebEx would "become a part of Cisco's Development Organization while maintaining its unique business model".[10] Cisco has also said that its long-term plan is to absorb WebEx at both a technology and a sales level.[11]

WebEx is not a free platform like WiZiQ or Moodle and fees are paid per "host" of a classroom or a meeting. Some organizations, however, have started to integrate WebEx with Moodle.[12][13]


At the time of the acquisition, all WebEx applications were built on the MediaTone platform and supported by the WebEx MediaTone Network (originally called the WebEx interactive network),[14] a global network intended for use with on-demand programs. The network was designed by Shaun Bryant, WebEx's Chief Network Architect,[15] and Zaid Ali Sr, Network Architect, to be one of the first SaaS platforms on the internet.

The company acquired Intranets.com in 2005, providing entrance into the small- and mid-size business market through the company's customer base of businesses with fewer than 100 employees. It acquired the ability to offer online collaboration tools such as discussion forums, document sharing and calendaring while Intranets.com provided access to the WebEx communications environment for its customers.[16]

On February 21, 2006, AOL and WebEx announced plans to launch a business version of AOL's instant-messaging software, AIM Pro, with additional features to help workers collaborate using conferencing tools offered by WebEx.

On September 26, 2006, the company announced plans to offer a web collaboration "mashup" platform called "WebEx Connect".[17]

On November 17, 2014, Cisco announced an evolution of WebEx called Project Squared.[18]

As of August 5, 2015 WebEx will no longer work with Windows XP.

Legal proceedings and inquiries[edit]

Goldman Sachs securities fraud investigation[edit]

As a result of a securities fraud investigation initiated by the SEC and by various state Attorney General offices, Goldman Sachs faced charges of issuing unfair research, including coverage of WebEx, and IPO violations for the period 1999 to 2001. WebEx management allegedly dictated to Goldman Sachs analysts what the research should and should not include. WebEx maintains the management's information was accurate.[19] Another charge accuses Goldman Sachs of violating securities law in its allocation of shares in WebEx's initial public offering.[20]

Raindance lawsuit for patent infringement[edit]

On September 27, 2005, WebEx sued Raindance Communications, Inc., a competitor, for patent infringement. On October 14, 2005, Raindance filed a countersuit against WebEx for patent infringement. Both parties sought both damages and an injunction enjoining further acts they claim to be infringing on patents.[21] On March 31, 2006, the parties agreed to the dismissal of both actions, releases of claims for past infringement, payments associated with those releases, and cross-licenses to each other's patents. The agreement resulted in WebEx receiving $1.0 million from Raindance.[21]

Min Zhu controversy[edit]

According to court filings and public records, Erin Zhu, daughter of WebEx co-founder and former Director, President and Chief Technical Officer Min Zhu, formed a business partnership with Michael Zeleny lasting from January 1995 to January 2000 known variously as LiveShare Inc. and PTYX. Zeleny claims that this partnership provided professional services to WebEx. It is further alleged by Zeleny that in 1999 LiveShare entered into an agreement with WebEx, and that in January 2000 WebEx reneged on this agreement. Zeleny also claims that at the same time, Erin Zhu made a claim for childhood sexual abuse against Min Zhu, which was settled out of court.

In January 2001, WebEx delivered to Erin Zhu 5,000 shares of its stock, apparently as part of the out of court settlement. At that time, WebEx owed 5,000 shares of its stock to PTYX, of which Erin was a partner. Erin soon thereafter abandoned the partnership with Zeleny and married Blixa Bargeld of the German industrial rock band Einstürzende Neubauten, taking the 5,000 shares of stock with her. Zeleny attempted to communicate with WebEx to recover this company asset and was rebuffed. He alleges that this was followed by anonymous threats being made on his life around the end of 2001 in the names of Min Zhu and WebEx. In response to these threats, Zeleny filed a lawsuit against WebEx. In July 2002 Zeleny’s lawsuit was transferred from Los Angeles to the Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara (case number CV809286). Zeleny named WebEx, Min Zhu, his daughter Erin Zhu, and his wife Susan Xu as defendants for breach of contract and various torts.

In October 2004, the defendants settled Zeleny's claims before the trial. The settlement terms remain under seal. Beginning in June 2004 Zeleny made public on the Yahoo! Finance WebEx message board the particulars of his lawsuit against the Zhus and WebEx, which included reference to the allegations of rape made against Min Zhu by his daughter, Erin. Zeleny made these postings under the Yahoo! username "ptyx". The posts remained accessible to the public until February 2005, at which time Yahoo! management closed the ptyx user account and removed all related postings. The same month Zeleny reappeared on the message board as "helicalenzyme" and continued posting updates of the legal proceedings and particulars of the cases. Zeleny justified this move by asserting that the issues are a matter of public interest. He notes that Min Zhu was serving in a position of trust as a senior executive of a publicly traded company, and has been accused of molestation in sworn testimony by his own daughter. By compounding the use of WebEx assets for hush money with employing WebEx corporate counsel to defend himself in the lawsuit and accuse Zeleny of libel, Zhu has confirmed the self-dealing Zeleny alleged.

In response to Zeleny's posts on the Yahoo! Finance WebEx messageboard, in July 2004 a suit for business tort, unfair practice was filed by WebEx naming Zeleny as defendant in Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara (case number CV-024062). Zeleny's response was to allege that WebEx had knowingly filed in the wrong venue, pointing out that WebEx had relied on the principle that venue in a tort claim lies with the defendant’s residence, in successfully moving for a change in venue of his own actions against it from Los Angeles to Santa Clara.

Zeleny responded with a motion for change of venue to Los Angeles. WebEx refused to stipulate to the change of venue, and Zeleny argued that this showed that WebEx was attempting to harass Zeleny into silence with bad faith pleadings. The motion for change of venue was granted and the case was transferred to Los Angeles Superior Court (case number BC324927). WebEx was ordered to pay Zeleny's attorney's fees. Zeleny followed this by filing an "anti-SLAPP" motion, in which he claimed that WebEx's suit was a Strategic Lawsuit Against Public Participation (SLAPP), a form of bad faith pleading. Again, the court ruled for Zeleny on two out of three causes of action in the defamation suit, and WebEx was once again ordered to reimburse Zeleny for his attorney's fees. Since the courts ruling on the anti-SLAPP motion, there has been no adjudication of the remaining cause of action in the defamation suit. Notably, in his declarations attached to the filings in that case, Min Zhu has refused to contest Zeleny's allegations concerning his rape of his daughter. WebEx describes its case against Zeleny as "narrowly tailored" to avoid this subject matter, in favor of contesting Zeleny's allegations of self-dealing by Min Zhu.

In November 2004, WebEx co-founder and executive Min Zhu stepped down as WebEx President and Director, though he continued to serve as WebEx CTO.[22]

In May 2005 Zeleny picketed the annual WebEx Experience User Conference held at the Westin St. Francis hotel in San Francisco held on 2 and 3 of May. During the picketing, a Russian rifle was discovered in Zeleny's car. The San Francisco Police Department briefly detained Zeleny. He was released after several hours when it had been determined that the weapons in his possession were legal and that he had made no threats to use them. The following morning, May 3, 2005, WebEx management announced that it was canceling the conference due to concerns over the safety of its customers and that it would reimburse attendees their fees.

On May 13, 2005, WebEx announced that Min Zhu was stepping down as WebEx's CTO and WebEx leadership, and retiring to mainland China where he would serve as a "WebEx Fellow".[23][24][25] Zeleny claims that Min Zhu retired in response to the publicity surrounding his daughter's allegations of child rape.[26]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "About WebEx". Cisco webex. Cisco. Retrieved July 7, 2010. When WebEx was founded in 1996 by Alessandro Capper, emerging digital communications standards [...] led to the development of video conferencing [...] 
  2. ^ http://www.activetouch.com
  3. ^ Flannery, Russell. Forbes "Rice Fields Yield Internet Riches" November 4, 2004
  4. ^ Trask, Amy (October 14, 2002). "File Bothell's LapLink under 'S' for survivor". The Seattle Times. 
  5. ^ Trask, Amy (October 14, 2002). "File Bothell's LapLink under 'S' for survivor". The Seattle Times. 
  6. ^ [1][dead link]
  7. ^ Trademark Status & Document Retrieval at uspto.gov
  8. ^ Trask, Amy (October 14, 2002). "File Bothell's LapLink under 'S' for survivor". The Seattle Times. Another product, WebEx, was the first offline browser and was developed by a California startup LapLink purchased in 1996. But when offline browsing became an issue in the browser wars between Microsoft and Netscape Communications, WebEx was caught in the middle. [...] LapLink dropped the product and sold the name. 
  9. ^ WebEx Selected for New NASDAQ Global Select Market WebEx press release June 27, 2006.
  10. ^ http://investor.cisco.com/phoenix.zhtml?c=81192&p=irol-newsArticle&ID=974299[dead link]
  11. ^ Cisco outlines WebEx integration plans – March 15, 2007 – IT Week
  12. ^ Moodle WebEx integration.
  13. ^ WebEx Moodle Integration plugin.
  14. ^ Cisco DevNet. Developer.webex.com. Retrieved on 2014-02-27.
  15. ^ http://entreprise.jigsaw.com/id70704_d80/webex_communications_inc_it_is_business_contacts.xhtml
  16. ^ Solhein, Shelley (August 8, 2005). "WebEx tools get Intranets infusion". eweek.
  17. ^ WebEx is expanding from connecting people to connecting process and applications in real time.
  18. ^ http://techcrunch.com/2014/11/17/ciscos-new-project-squared-collaboration-tool-gives-webex-a-run-for-its-money
  19. ^ SEC Litigation Complaint 18113
  20. ^ SEC Litigation press release for complaint 19051
  22. ^ http://biz.yahoo.com/e/041108/webx8-k.html
  23. ^ http://biz.yahoo.com/ap/050513/webex_board.html?.v=1
  24. ^ http://biz.yahoo.com/prnews/050513/sff023.html?.v=9
  25. ^ http://biz.yahoo.com/e/050517/webx8-k.html
  26. ^ http://www.livejournal.com/users/larvatus/29125.html

External links[edit]