Thomas Siebel

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Thomas Siebel
Tom Siebel 2013.png
Thomas Siebel in 2013
Thomas M. Siebel

(1952-11-20) November 20, 1952 (age 68)
EducationUniversity of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
OccupationSoftware developer and businessman
Known forFounder of Siebel Systems Inc
Spouse(s)Stacey Siebel
WebsiteThomas M. Siebel

Thomas M. Siebel (/ˈsbəl/; born November 20, 1952) is an American billionaire businessman, technologist, and author. He was the founder of enterprise software company Siebel Systems and is the founder, chairman, and CEO of, an artificial intelligence software platform and applications company.[2][3]

He is the chairman of First Virtual Group, a diversified holding company with interests in investment management, commercial real estate, agribusiness, and philanthropy.[4]

Siebel has been a frequent industry spokesperson as well as the author of the Wall Street Journal bestseller Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction (RosettaBooks, 2019)[5] and three previous books: Cyber Rules (1999), and Taking Care of eBusiness (2001) published by Doubleday, and Virtual Selling (1996), published by the Free Press.[6]

Early life and education[edit]

Siebel was born in Chicago, one of seven children of Arthur Francis Siebel, a Harvard-educated lawyer, and Ruth A. (née Schmid) Siebel, a housewife.[7][8][9] He has five brothers and one sister: Frances Cihak; Richard (who served as Cook County Commissioner), James, William, Robert, and John.[10] His family was Lutheran.[7][10][11] Siebel is a graduate of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where he received a B.A. in history, an M.B.A., an M.S. in computer science,[12] and an honorary doctorate of engineering.[13]

Business career[edit]

Between 1984 and 1990, Siebel was an executive at Oracle Corporation, where he held a number of management positions.[14][15] Siebel served as chief executive officer of Gain Technology, a multimedia software company that merged with Sybase in December 1992.[15] Siebel was the founder, chairman, and chief executive officer of Siebel Systems,[16] which was acquired by Oracle in January, 2006.[17] Siebel is the chairman of First Virtual Group, a diversified holding company.[4]

Siebel Systems[edit]

Siebel Systems was a software company primarily engaged in the design, development, marketing, and support of customer relationship management (CRM) applications. As an executive at Oracle, Siebel proposed the idea of creating enterprise software applications tailored for marketing, sales, and customer service functions. Oracle management declined his proposal. Siebel left Oracle to found Siebel Systems in 1993 to pursue that opportunity.[18] In 1999, Siebel Systems became the fastest-growing technology company in the United States.[19] Siebel Systems grew to over 8,000 employees in 32 countries, more than 4,500 corporate customers, and annual revenue greater than $2 billion before merging with Oracle in January 2006.[20][edit]

In 2009, Siebel founded, originally to provide enterprise software for energy management.[21] currently provides an enterprise AI software platform and applications for multiple commercial uses, including energy management, predictive maintenance, fraud detection, anti-money laundering, inventory optimization, and predictive CRM.[22] Its customers include 3M, Royal Dutch Shell, the US Air Force, and New York Power Authority.[23][24] was included in the 2019 “CNBC Disruptor 50” list, with a valuation of $2.1 billion.[25] Through, he created a collaboration to use AI to help address COVID-19.[26]

Enterprise AI software applies artificial intelligence methods, such as machine learning and neural networks, to solve complex analytical problems in commerce, industry, and government.[27] Organizations use enterprise AI software to increase efficiencies, reduce costs, and improve operations.[28] The US Air Force, for example, uses AI to predict engine failure in aircraft before a failure occurs in order to improve maintenance and increase aircraft readiness.[24]

Digital transformation[edit]

Siebel's fourth book, Digital Transformation, became a Wall Street Journal bestseller in July 2019.[29] In the book Siebel discusses how the confluence of four modern information technology vectors—elastic cloud computing, big data, artificial intelligence, and the internet of things—is impacting business, government, and society. He characterizes the 21st century as a period of corporate mass extinction. He states that since 2000, 52 percent of Fortune 500 companies have fallen off the list, and he discusses how new companies like Amazon, Uber, Tesla, Airbnb, and others have emerged and grown during this time.[30]

Siebel claims that in order to survive and thrive in the 21st century, organizations must undergo digital transformation by harnessing the four information technologies discussed in the book. The book provides advice to organizations in the form of a 10-point CEO action plan.[31]

Management philosophy[edit]

Siebel is a proponent of building a “self-learning corporate culture” that motivates employees to continue their education on the job. offers cash awards of $1,000 to $1,500 to employees for each course they complete from a curated Coursera curriculum.[32] In 2019, Siebel initiated a program at that pays 100 percent of the costs for employees to complete an online master's degree of computer science (MCS) program from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Employees who complete the MCS degree receive a salary increase of 15 percent, a cash bonus of $25‚000, and additional stock options.[33]

Honors and awards[edit]

In 2013, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences elected Tom Siebel as a member.[34]

Siebel serves on the Board of Advisors of the Stanford University College of Engineering, the University of Illinois College of Engineering, and the University of California at Berkeley College of Engineering.[35][36] He is a Director of the Hoover Institution at Stanford University,[37] and is the Chairman of the Board for the American Agora Foundation.[38] He was a member of the Trustees of Princeton University from 2008 to 2011.[39] He is the Founder and Chairman of the Montana Meth Project[40] and the Siebel Scholars Foundation,[41] and Chairman of the Siebel Foundation. He was ranked #5 and #3 of the world's top 25 philanthropists by Barron's Magazine in 2009 and 2010, respectively.[42][43] In 2007 and 2008, he was named one of The 50 Most Generous Philanthropists by BusinessWeek.[44]

Siebel received the David Packard Award for his achievements as a technology entrepreneur and his contributions to national security from the Business Executives for National Security in 2002 and was named one of the Top 25 Managers in the World by BusinessWeek in 2000 and 2001.[45][46]

Call Center Magazine inducted Siebel to its Hall of Fame in 2000 in recognition for contributions to the business and technology of customer service.[47] CRM Magazine inducted him into its inaugural CRM Hall of Fame in 2003 in recognition of his vision, strong leadership, and enduring commitment to innovation.[48] He has also been named:

  • Entrepreneur of the Year, EY, 2018[49]
  • Goldman Sachs Most Intriguing Entrepreneur, 2018[50]
  • Glassdoor Top CEO, 2018[51]
  • Entrepreneur of the Year, EY, 2017[52]
  • Most Admired CEO Lifetime Achievement Award - San Francisco Business Times, 2016[53]
  • The Chancellor's Citation, University of California, Berkeley, 2014[54]
  • One of the World's Top 25 Eco-Innovators - FORTUNE magazine, 2014[55]
  • Woodrow Wilson Award for Corporate Citizenship – The Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars of the Smithsonian Institution, 2010[56]
  • Engineering at Illinois Hall of Fame - University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, 2010[57]
  • Lewis & Clark Pioneers in Industry Award - University of Montana, 2006[58]
  • Master Entrepreneur of the Year – Ernst & Young, 2003[59]
  • David Packard Award – Business Executives for National Security, 2002[45]
  • CEO of the Year – Industry Week, 2002[60]
  • University of Illinois Presidential Award and Medallion, 2001[61]
  • Top 10 CEOs - Investor's Business Daily, 2000[47]
  • One of Top 25 Managers in Global Business – BusinessWeek, 1999 to 2001[46]


The Siebel Foundation (founded 1996) is active in support of the homeless and underprivileged, educational and research programs, methamphetamine abuse prevention, and alternative energy solutions.[62] The Siebel Foundation created the Siebel Scholars Foundation, the Siebel Energy Institute, and the Dearborn Scholars Fund in Montana. In 2005, Siebel founded the Montana Meth Project.[4][63] The Office of National Drug Control Policy awarded the Meth Project a White House commendation as the most influential prevention campaign in 2006, and Tom Siebel accepted the award on the program's behalf.[64] He was also recognized for his work on the program with the 2006 Director's Community Leadership Award from the Federal Bureau of Investigation.[65][66][67][68][69]

In 2001, Siebel donated $32 million to his alma mater, the Department of Computer Science at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, to build the Siebel Center for Computer Science, opened in spring 2004.[70] In 2006, Siebel donated $4 million to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign to establish two endowed full professorships, the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in the History of Science and the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science.[71] Siebel pledged an additional $100 million gift to the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign in 2007.[72] In 2015, the Siebel Foundation launched the Siebel Energy Institute to research the data management of energy infrastructure monitoring data.[73] In 2016, Siebel donated $25 million to build the Siebel Center for Design at the University of Illinois, a 60,000-square-foot multidisciplinary hub designed by architects Bohlin Cywinski Jackson and expected to be completed in 2020.[74]

Political involvement[edit]

From 2009 to 2014, Siebel made a total of $335,300 in political contributions. Approximately 90% of this was independent and 10% was for Republican Party candidates.[1]

In September 2008, Siebel hosted a campaign stop for Sarah Palin at his home.[75][76][77][78]

In 2013, C3 Energy hosted former Senator Max Baucus from Montana, and Siebel and Baucus discussed the ways in which information technology addresses the utility industry's big data challenge.[79]

In April 2014, Congresswoman Jackie Speier from California met with C3 Energy executives, including Siebel, to discuss how the latest developments in IT are being applied to the power grid.[80]

Personal life[edit]

He is married to Stacey Siebel, they have four children, and live in Woodside, California, US.[1]

A part-time Montana resident, Siebel owns and operates the Dearborn Ranch in Wolf Creek, Montana, a working cattle ranch.[81] Siebel's time in Montana has extended over a period of 35 years.

Elephant incident[edit]

On the morning of August 1, 2009, he and a guide were in Tanzania, observing a group of elephants from 200 yards away, when an elephant charged Siebel's guide and then turned on Siebel, breaking several ribs, goring him in the left leg, and crushing the right.[82][83] They radioed for help, but it was three hours before he received any medical treatment.[82] He was flown to the Aga Khan University Hospital in Nairobi, where they cleaned his wounds and stabilized his leg. He was then flown back to the United States on a 20-hour flight with only 10-hours of morphine and 15 hours of fluids. He had lost half of his fluids and was put in the intensive care unit.[84] He was moved to Stanford Hospital where, over the next six months, they performed 11 surgeries, fixed his ribs and shoulder, and saved his left leg.[83]

In September 2010, a year after the attack, Siebel had undergone 16 surgeries and an Ilizarov apparatus external fixator to mend, lengthen, and reshape the tibia of his right leg.[84] After enduring 19 reconstructive surgeries total over two and a half years, Siebel has now made a full recovery.[85] In 2013, National Geographic included Siebel's account in its TV series Dead or Alive: Trampled on Safari.[86]

Books and articles[edit]

  • Digital Transformation (2019)[87] ISBN 1948122480
  • “Digital Transformation: The Post-Industrial Utility” (Aspenia Magazine, June 2018)[88]
  • “Why digital transformation is now on the CEO’s shoulders” (McKinsey Quarterly, December 2017)[89]
  • “The Internet of Energy” (Electric Perspectives, March/April 2015)[90]
  • “Big Data and the Smart Grid: Is Hadoop the Answer?” (Stanford Energy Journal, October 21, 2014)[91]
  • Taking Care of eBusiness (2001) ISBN 0-385-50227-3
  • Cyber Rules (with Pat House) (1999)[92] ISBN 0385494122
  • Virtual Selling (with Michael Malone) (1996)[93] ISBN 0684822873


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  13. ^ University of Illinois News Release: "Four Chosen to Receive Honorary Degrees at U. of I. May Commencement" By Sharita Forrest February 16, 2006
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  31. ^ Trapp, Roger. "Success In Digital Transformation Requires A Plan And The Determination To Execute It". Forbes. Retrieved 23 September 2019.
  32. ^ Siebel, Thomas. "Building a Self-learning Corporate Culture". Retrieved 19 September 2019.
  33. ^ Adams, Susan. "Billionaire Tom Siebel Is Offering His Employees The Most Generous Education Benefit Ever". Forbes. Retrieved 19 September 2019.
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  35. ^ Stanford University Archived 2010-07-06 at the Wayback Machine
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  38. ^ American Agora Foundation Archived 2009-06-07 at the Wayback Machine
  39. ^ Princeton University, September 23, 2011
  40. ^ "The Meth Project". Archived from the original on 7 November 2011. Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  41. ^ "A Class Apart: About the Siebel Scholars Program". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  42. ^ The 25 Best Givers 2009, Barron's
  43. ^ The 25 Best Givers 2010 Archived 2011-07-11 at the Wayback Machine, Barron's
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  46. ^ a b The 25 Top Managers of the Year, BusinessWeek
  47. ^ a b U of I Deans Distinguished Business Lecture Series Spring 2010
  48. ^ CRM Magazine Inducts Thomas M. Siebel into CRM Hall of Fame August 27, 2003
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  50. ^ "Goldman Sachs Names Tom Siebel "Most Intriguing Entrepreneur"". Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  51. ^ "Glassdoor Top CEO 2018: Tom Siebel". Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  52. ^ "EY Honors Thomas M. Siebel as 2017 Entrepreneur of the Year". Dow Jones. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  53. ^ Procter, Richard. "Meet the Bay Area's Most Admired CEOs for 2016". San Francisco Business Times. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  54. ^ "Berkeley Awards". UC Berkeley. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  55. ^ The World's Top 25 Eco-Innovators FORTUNE, May 1, 2014
  56. ^ Woodrow Wilson Awards, Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars
  57. ^ University of Illinois Alumni Awards Archived 2014-06-17 at, University of Illinois
  58. ^ Lewis & Clark Pioneer In Industry Awards Honor Tom Siebel And William Allen Montana Associated Technology Roundtables, September 3, 2006
  59. ^ Northern California Ernst & Young Recognizes Thomas M. Siebel as Master Entrepreneur of the Year, Business Wire
  60. ^ CEO Of The Year -- The King Of Customer[permanent dead link], Industry Week
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  62. ^ Develpixel. "First Virtual Group". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  63. ^ The Anti Drug Lord, Good Magazine, June 2008
  64. ^ Huffington Post article: “The Anti-Drug Lord” by Corey Binns June 18, 2008
  65. ^ Salt Lake City - Bernie LaSarte Federal Bureau of Investigation
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  68. ^ Tom Siebel: The Energy Free Home Challenge, Forbes, June 2009
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  71. ^ Thomas M. Siebel Chair Archived 2013-02-17 at
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  74. ^ Kaler, Robin. "Alumnus Siebel Donates $25 Million For Innovative Design Center". University of Illinois. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  75. ^ Silicon Valley Republicans to welcome Palin to tech giant's Woodside fundraiser: While California Republicans aren't counting on carrying California in November, they are seizing the GOP VP candidate's sudden stardom to raise cash in the state. Mary Anne Ostrom, Mercury News, September 6, 2008
  76. ^ Woodside fundraiser for Palin popular, but Democratic women in Silicon Valley skeptical about the Palin effect, Mary Anne Ostrom and Linda Goldston, Mercury News, September 12, 2008
  77. ^ Palin cancels stop in California, Mary Anne Ostrom, Mercury News, September 18, 2008
  78. ^ Breaking bread with Sarah Palin, Leah Garchik, San Francisco Chronicle, September 18, 2008
  79. ^ C3 Energy Hosts Senator Max Baucus, August 21, 2013
  80. ^ C3 Energy Hosts Congresswoman Jackie Speier Archived 2015-09-24 at the Wayback Machine, April 29, 2014
  81. ^ "MGWA: Siebel Foundation". Retrieved 17 May 2016.
  82. ^ a b Tech mogul Tom Siebel injured by elephant, by Julia Prodis Sulek and Brandon Bailey, Mercury News, 09/03/2009
  83. ^ a b A Golfer Never Forgets, by Jerry Tarde, Golf Digest, July 2010
  84. ^ a b Tom Siebel On Being Gored By An Elephant, as told to Steven Bertoni, Forbes magazine, 10/11/2010
  85. ^ Thomas Siebel, Forbes magazine, 6/26/14
  86. ^ Trampled on Safari, National Geographic, 6/26/14
  87. ^ Siebel, Thomas M. (9 July 2019). Digital Transformation. ISBN 978-1948122481.
  88. ^ "Charging ahead: the energy transition". Aspen Institute Italia. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  89. ^ Siebel, Thomas. "Why digital transformation is now on the CEO's shoulders". McKinsey & Co. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  90. ^ Siebel, Thomas. "The Internet of Energy". Electric Perspectives. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  91. ^ Siebel, Thomas. "Big Data and the Smart Grid: Is Hadoop the Answer?". Stanford University. Retrieved 29 September 2019.
  92. ^ Siebel, Thomas M.; House, Pat (1999). Cyber Rules. ISBN 0385494122.
  93. ^ Siebel, Thomas M.; Malone, Michael Shawn; Malone, Michael (1996). Virtual Selling. ISBN 0684822873.

External links[edit]