Software Pioneer Explores IoT and A.I.

August 19, 2017

PUBLISHED BY Tiernan Ray

SOURCE Barron's

Tom Siebel, who was employee number 20 at Oracle and later sold his company to Larry Ellison for billions, has a new startup that is riding the convergence of artificial intelligence with the Internet of Things, as the world zooms toward perhaps 50 billion connected sensors by 2023.

 
Tom Siebel is a legend in enterprise software, having sold his company, Siebel Systems, to Larry Ellison’s Oracle (ORCL) in 2006 for $5.85 billion.

You might not immediately suspect that about him in person. His mop of curly hair and his thoughtful expression give him the air of a Bob Dylan of technology, an artist, while his youthful enthusiasm suggests he’s still on the Silicon Valley startup road trip, even though at age 64, he’s seen four decades of the tech world’s evolution.

Unlike many very accomplished people, he deflects from his own ego and endows his peers in tech, such as Ellison, with heaps of praise, calling them “brilliant” “very, very smart,” or “so, so smart.”

Siebel recently swung by the Barron’s offices to chat about C3 IoT, his next company, which he claims has already surpassed established firms such as IBM (IBM) and GE (GE) in the Internet of Things.

A graduate of University of Illinois at Urbana Champaign, Siebel had originally intended to become a lawyer, “but I was saved!” he quips. After a stint in Idaho working on a ranch, he returned to his native Chicago and ultimately sought out an education in business, which led to a masters in computer science.

C3 came out of philanthropic work Siebel was doing in 2007 and 2008, after selling to Ellison. He was concerned with making an impact on the planet’s energy and climate issues. He soon realized that being a for-profit company might ultimately have a greater impact, and founded C3 in 2009.

The company is now the largest vendor of IoT applications, he says, bigger than either IBM or GE. C3 has annual revenue of around $100 million, he says. “How much is IBM making?” off of IoT, he asks. It’s not clear, he says. But one thing he knows is that C3’s individual deals are in tens of millions of dollars versus hundreds of thousands for those other two, he says.

The C3 technology is a cloud computing service that runs in conjunction with Amazon.com‘s (AMZN) Web Services. It allows one to gather all the data sources for a given domain, such as energy metering, and perform machine learning to detect patterns that can save industries billions of dollars.

Read the full article on Barron’s here.