WebEx Builds a Virtual Boardroom

SAN JOSE, CALIF. (03/29/2000) - WebEx Inc., a popular provider of real-time conferencing on the Web, wants to help you conduct even more of your business online.

At WebEx.com, you can stage live meetings with voice, video, and application sharing, or set up a virtual office. WebEx's free meetings include presentation and limited document sharing that lets attendees annotate, save, and print documents residing on any participant's desktop. You can add teleconferencing over the phone or the Internet for 20 to 35 cents a minute for each participant. For the same price, you get real-time video, unlimited application sharing, desktop sharing, and the capability to conduct Web tours.

But WebEx doesn't want to be a meeting portal. Instead, the company points to its portal partner sites, like Quicken.com, Buzzsaw.com, and Sales.com. There, you'll find its growing WebEx Business Exchange, a real-time marketplace that adds a directory, calendar, and chat to the virtual office.

This week, WebEx begins offering Business Exchange to all sites that license its meeting rooms.

A $25 a month subscription service, Business Exchange includes the virtual office for full-featured WebEx meetings plus file storage and a directory and shared calendar, so people can find you for a meeting.

Barter at Your Desk

"We want to provide real-time activities in a platform on a range of Web sites," says Subrah Iyar, chief executive officer and cofounder of WebEx.

For example, visitors to WebEx partner site Buzzsaw.com can search for the architectural or construction service they need, check calendars to schedule meetings, and join in real-time negotiations. And you can meet with people from around the world.

The Business Exchange service is aimed at a wide range of customers, from one-person shops to large companies, Iyar says. An office within the WebEx Business Exchange can stand alone on a portal or link to your site.

Behind the Scenes

Other services, such as Astound, offer Web-based meetings and collaboration tools. WebEx seems to distinguish itself with its range of interactive tools for commerce and its emphasis on consistent quality.

The company's servers are geographically distributed for best performance, says Zaid Ali, senior network engineer. "Each meeting participant is hosted on the closest facility for a more reliable service," Ali says. Besides existing servers in San Jose, Amsterdam, Virginia, and Beijing, WebEx is rolling out distributed servers in Phoenix, Denver, Omaha, New York, and Washington, D.C. by June.

WebEx constantly checks its network to know immediately when someone's connection is down, Ali adds. "We monitor the Internet as a whole to solve a customer's network problems."

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