C3: Enabling Digital Industrial Transformation

Case Solution

Julie Makinen, Robert E. Siegel
Stanford Graduate School of Business ()

This case follows Silicon Valley software veteran Thomas Siebel as he founded a new company, C3, in 2009 and led it through two major decisions, moving the business from an energy-efficient company to a data management platform. , machine-based and artificial learning. intelligence is transforming for large companies. The case looks at the many business transformations and branding that C3 went through and explores the strategic challenges the company faced in 2018 when it began directly competing with companies such as IBM and SAP. In 2009, three years after Siebel sold its eponymous enterprise software company, Siebel Systems, to Oracle for nearly $ 6 billion, Siebel started a new company, C3. “C” stands for carbon, and “3” is short for three words with “M”: measure, mitigate and monetize. The idea was to help large companies navigate the new world of carbon taxes and reduce their carbon footprint. But after just two years, C3 got into trouble. It had found customers for its C3 Energy Management software product, but oil prices had stagnated and companies cut their expenses in the wake of the financial crisis. Siebel did not give up. He saw great potential in the data flowing from sensors into smart meters, turbines, transformers, and other infrastructure on power grids. In 2012, he laid off about 100 of C3’s 150 employees and retained the core engineering team. The company renamed itself C3 Energy and helped network operators aggregate and analyze data from various sensor devices and corporate software systems. C3 Energy’s engine processed data at very high speeds and then applied machine learning to do useful things like predictive maintenance, theft detection, and sensor network health monitoring.

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