Ari Sonesh came up with the idea for his 3-year-old company in the mid-1980s while he was overseeing the computer support system at Comverse Technologies in Woodbury.
"I saw the potential to improve customer support services," he explained. "So I put things together and came up with an idea. I discussed it with Steve [Kowarsky at Comverse] and others, and decided it was an idea I had to commit myself to. So I left Comverse."
Sonesh's idea: Allow customers to speak directly with representatives of a company through its web site.