Tom Siebel built a software company in three years and hit the top of the IPO market, becoming one of the richest entrepreneurs in the nation. Ten years later, in 2005, he sold his company to Oracle and took a rest. But last fall a Wired magazine columnist picked up on how Siebel was looking at resumes and securing office space in Silicon Valley. At that point Siebel was close-mouthed about just what his new venture would be.
The secret is out now, and he’s coming to Princeton to talk about it. Siebel will speak on “From Information Technology to Energy Technology, Entrepreneurial Opportunities for the Next Decade,” on Monday, March 30, at 4:30 p.m. in Guyot Hall. A reception will follow. For information contact E-mail firstname.lastname@example.org or call 609-258-3979.
The posters for the talk might indicate that Siebel will make windmills, but maybe not. His new company, called C3 (carbon conscious consumer) is reportedly going to help companies reduce their carbon footprints in various ways.
He is also mounting the Energy-Free Home Challenge, a $20 million contest that aims to find a way to inexpensively build houses that consume no energy after one year.
Siebel was born in Chicago, the sixth of seven children in an upper-middle-class family, and raised in Wilmette, Illinois under a father who was a Harvard-educated corporate attorney.
Siebel attended the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he earned a bachelor’s in history in 1975. Unsure what to do, he worked as a ranch hand in Idaho before returning to Chicago to work for a trade book publisher. He then earned his MBA from the University of Illinois, where he became fascinated with computing and ultimately earned two degrees, an MBA and a master’s degree in computer science, both in 1983.
In 1984 Siebel was hired by Oracle Corporation and became its top salesman within a year. In 1991 he was hired as CEO of Cayenne Systems, a small, privately owned multimedia software company that was renamed Gain Technology and sold by Siebel to Sybase, for $110 million in 1992.
He then founded Siebel Systems, and between 1995 and 2000 posted successive annual gains over 100 percent while controlling as much as 70 percent of the CRM (customer relations management) software market.
In 2001 Siebel Systems reported annual sales of $2 billion
In May 2004 he stepped down as CEO of Siebel Systems, although he remained at the company’s helm as chairman.Siebel told the Wired writer that he is bullish on the downturn as a good time to start a new company. . “There are lots of really good people and space around, and all of the traditional people who build companies are sitting this out,” he said, “because they think the market’s bad and it’s going to get worse.” He thinks the period from 2010 to 2030 will mirror the two decades from 1980 to 2000.