Siebel Systems Introduces New CEO, Mike Lawrie

leaving IBM

Siebel Systems quickly called a teleconference Monday to explain the changes to analysts and press. On the call, opened by CFO Ken Goldman, and joined by Lawrie and Executive Vice President David Schmaier, Siebel said he had decided more than a year ago to separate the roles of chairman and CEO so that he could "strengthen leadership in the executive team."

"We engaged in the usual deliberative processes," said Siebel. "We retained one of the top executive search firms to recommend to me and the board of directors the candidates we might approach. We are very, very pleased that our first choice ultimately accepted and assumes the role. This is a big day for the company."

When asked to describe their different roles, Siebel said: "Mike is the CEO. Mike runs the company, The executive team reports to Mike. I will remain an employee and continue to assist in strategic relationships. I'm not going anywhere."

Lawrie promises to bring a less-egocentric approach to management than the company's founder--famous throughout Silicon Valley for his bristling temper and intemperate ego. There's also a fair amount of speculation regarding Schmaier's fate, who had been viewed as the heir apparent--although Lawrie pointedly said he would not change the leadership team's makeup.

Sponsored post

"The bigger picture in enterprise software is that the category itself has struggled tremendously," said CRM gadfly and Siebel archrival Marc Benioff, chairman and CEO of "If anyone represents the costs and complexity of enterprise software, it's Tom Siebel."

During the analyst call, Lawrie appeared to acknowledge at least part of Benioff's point. "What is expected of application software is shifting," said Lawrie in response to a question regarding the company's direction. "Customers are demanding more value, more expertise and a return on their investment in a shorter time frame. The bar has been raised for all players in the industry to focus on customers and their problems and help deliver value. Those who do that will separate from the rest of the pack."

BARBARA DARROW contributed to this story.