It’s more like a division of SAP than a software product, said Thomas Siebel, describing his stealthy carbon software company C3, at the Fortune Brainstorm Green event in Laguna Niguel, California on Tuesday. Problem is, SAP already has its own division delivering carbon software, which it beefed up significantly in 2009 when it bought carbon software startup Clear Standards.
That’s always been my issue with C3 (and was also the subject of an audience question at the event) — how is it going to be different from the carbon software firms already out there? But Siebel, who is forever famous for selling Siebel Systems to Oracle for billions of dollars, actually for the first time offered some real customer examples and explanations for what he wants to do with C3 at the conference.
The exercise of building C3 began back in 2008, said Siebel, when we got around 50 executives together to think about information technology and energy (also the subject of our Green:Net event on April 21 in San Francisco). Out of that process, today C3 — which offers a family of enterprise applications to measure, mitigate and monetize carbon — is a group of 130 software professionals, with a growing partner ecosystem, said Siebel. “We are bringing to market a $150 million software engineering effort that will take a decade to fulfill,” and will accurately, in real-time measuring the energy dynamics of an organization, said Siebel.
Some of the customers that Siebel named for the first time included Dow Chemical, which Siebel said C3 has a deal to operate in 2,000 of Dow’s facilities around the globe. We are helping them save around $1 billion, said Siebel, which is “a substantial value proposition.” Pella Windows is another company in the industrial space that C3 is working with.
Two power customers are PG&E and Constellation Energy, said Siebel. We’re working with PG&E to bring the software to 3,100 of their customers, and with Constellation Energy, we’re talking to 30,000 of their customers in the U.S., said Siebel. Siebel said back in January that it had “10 giant corporate clients,” at the Department of Energy’s ARPA-E event, but this is the first I’ve heard of who they are.
Siebel also addressed the architecture of the product, which could actually be a solid differentiator for how C3 could scale big, fast. Siebel said C3 uses a software as a service (SAAS) design, available virtually in the cloud, and that uses a licensing subscription model. Pretty standard fare for big enterprise software plays, but given he’s built a software empire before, I figure he’s designed it to be able to scale for a distributed massive company like Dow. Competitors SAP and Hara are also using SAAS and cloud tools for their carbon software offerings.
On the pricing of the product, Siebel would only cryptically say: It “costs more than a spread and less then a nuclear reactor,” but also added that it’s a “value based pricing model.”
And finally we come to possibly C3’s biggest differentiator: Its funding and board members. Siebel explained the way he raised money for the company as: “After a year of meetings, we sent an email on a Friday and raised $200 million by Sunday. And that’s how we got financed.”
According to filings C3 has been looking to raise close to $50 million in funding in recent months, and closed $30 million last year. C3 counts former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Senator and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham as directors.
At the end of the day the thing that’s driving C3’s buzz the most is Siebel himself. In the talk at the Fortune Brainstorm Green event, Siebel said that Siebel Systems was the fastest growing software company in history, and said he believes that “C3 is growing at a much more rapid rate than Siebel Systems grew. The demand for this is large.”