Tom Siebel, who sold Siebel Systems to Oracle for $5.7 billion, has amassed $26 million and a host of Washington and tech big wigs to help launch a mystery startup called C3.
Right now, it is unclear what the company plans to do. TechCrunch, which first reported the funding and the name, speculated that the company might produce carbon management software. The name clearly hints that: carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and methane (CH4) are three of the most prevalent greenhouse gases. Three carbon molecules: get it.
Siebel, though, has also been an advocate of energy efficient buildings. A little over a year ago, he was trying to raise $20 million for a contest to build affordable, net zero energy homes. The problem with the industry, he told me, was that net zero homes cost too much.
"You can't solve the problem by sitting in the dark and freezing to death," he said then.
Conceivably, C3 could be focused on energy management and automation systems for homes or commercial buildings. The cryptic website says "Energy and Emissions Management." Who knows, maybe it will do carbon auditing, energy management and automation. A couple of other companies are combining functions. Hara, founded by Oracle alums, combines carbon accounting and energy management while SAP combines carbon accounting, energy auditing, safety management and resource planning.
Either way, both are growing markets but both also already have several competitors. Still, none of these companies have achieved the kind of scale to scare off any new competitors.
Whatever he's up to, the board of directors contains some interesting names. Members include Patricia House, who co-founded Siebel Systems, former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, Steve Ward, who ran IBM's PC unit for years and helped sell it to Lenovo, and Mike McCaffrey, who's been a fixture in the investment banking world for years in San Francisco. He's on the board of KB Home.
Another interesting director: S. Shankar Sastry, the dean of engineering at UC Berkeley. Interestingly, Siebel unfurled his green building contest at a conference hosted at Berkeley. Arun Majumdar, the mechanical engineering professor at UC Berkeley turned director of ARPA-E, spoke the same day. Sastry's board position indicates, possibly, that some of the technology behind C3 comes out of Berkeley. Adura Technologies, which makes technology for automating lights and will soon control other appliances, emerged from Berkeley.
And Steve Chu used to manage Lawrence Berkeley labs. The country's run by these people, but don't tell anyone.