IBM sales head steps into Siebel CEO shoes

Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel will step down as its chief executive and be replaced by IBM sales and distribution head Mike...

Siebel Systems founder Tom Siebel will step down as its chief executive and be replaced by IBM sales and distribution head Mike Lawrie. Siebel will remain the company's chairman.

Tom Siebel said Lawrie's appointment stems from a decision he made a year ago to separate the roles of chairman and chief executive officer.

"We're very, very pleased that our first choice for the job ultimately accepted," he said. "We cannot imagine a more experienced or talented executive to assume the role."

Lawrie has spent more than 25 years at IBM working in a variety of marketing, sales, development and finance roles. He took charge in 2001 of IBM's sales and distribution operations, which includes its network of channel partners.

Lawrie will join Siebel after several years of working with the company as a partner. IBM is one of Siebel's largest customers, with 60,000 CRM seats deployed, and is also its top marketing partner. The companies had a $1bn in joint business last year.

Siebel joined Siebel in 1993 after rising through the executive ranks at Oracle. The company said he will continue to work full-time at Siebel, focusing on strategy, customer relations and representing Siebel to the business and political communities.

Siebel now leads the CRM market, but the company's growth slowed in recent years as it confronted a downturn in software buying and increased competition from SAP, PeopleSoft and Oracle.

"The numbers have not been pretty, both relative to its previous growth [and] also relative to its competitors," said analyst Josh Greenbaum. "What Tom Siebel needs is someone who can get the sales going."

Tom Kucharvy, president of consultancy Summit Strategies, agreed that rebuilding Siebel's sales will be a priority for Lawrie. Kucharvy said he hoped the change signals a new willingness at Siebel to broaden the company's thinking about the applications market.

Stacey Cowley writes for IDG News Service 


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