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Tom Siebel takes a victory lap after C3.ai’s blockbuster debut on Wall Street

C3.ai raised $651 million in its first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange.

Tom Siebel takes a victory lap after C3.ai’s blockbuster debut on Wall Street

C3.ai shares closed at $92.49 on Wednesday.

Photo: NYSE

Tom Siebel strikes again.

Shares of C3.ai, the company he founded in 2009, just went gangbusters on the company's first day of trading on the New York Stock Exchange. Living up to its ticker "AI," the firm offers catered solutions that help clients like Shell and the U.S. Air Force, among others, predict when their machines may need maintenance.

It's part of a booming industry to arm enterprises with the latest and greatest AI technology. Alongside startups that offer industry-specific applications, AWS, Google and the other tech giants of the world also stack AI-based products on top of their bread-and-butter cloud computing software.

But to Siebel, there are no competitors. In fact, he thinks no one is remotely close to offering what C3.ai can. SAP and Oracle? Siebel says they have "nothing but white papers" when it comes to enterprise AI. Salesforce? A laggard when it comes to innovation that only offers AI to suggest the next step in the sales process. AWS and Microsoft? Go-to-market partners that can't match the sophistication of C3.ai's offerings, but still play a critical foundational role. (Microsoft is a key ally and now shareholder of C3.ai.)

"Every company in the world would like to be in the enterprise AI business," Siebel told Protocol. "Right now, I think we have a free run at it. I don't know where the competition is going to come from."

The secret weapon, according to Siebel, is what he calls "model-driven architecture," a form of software development that Siebel claims he's protected with a patent.

"If you want to use a model-driven architecture, which is our secret sauce, you get to call 1-800-C3 and you license it from us," Siebel said. "If Microsoft thinks they can deliver it tomorrow, why would they be partnering with me? And if they want to build it, I can assure you we own the intellectual property rights to the idea."

Some criticism has been levied at C3.ai and its products, but Siebel brushes it aside, instead touting that companies are paying upwards of "$80 million and euros over time to license this technology from us."

"Every company is using me with one of Azure, AWS or Google," he added. "If they already have this stuff, why would they be paying me scores of millions of dollars?"

It's tough to bet against Siebel, a legend in the enterprise software world who was also infamously attacked by an elephant in 2009 (he's since recovered). It could get even harder following such an impressive public debut.

Back in 1995, Siebel created the customer relationship management industry with t before selling the company to Oracle for roughly $6 billion. Now, the company most identified with the software is Salesforce. But Siebel is charging hard at Marc Benioff's brainchild, launching a new partnership with Microsoft and Adobe to sell AI-backed CRM software.

While Siebel will quickly attack any attempt to compare C3.ai to Salesforce, the company does offer AI capabilities in the form of Einstein — which Salesforce says churns out over 80 billion predictions each day. The key difference, according to Siebel, is that while Salesforce's Einstein only analyzes information included in a company's CRM system, C3.ai, Microsoft and Adobe's products will also include valuable information from external sources, like analyst reports and social media feeds.

"I've interviewed everybody who is a senior manager in Einstein, and I have a pretty good idea what they are doing," said Siebel. "I don't think there's anybody there who knows what AI is."

Now, armed with $651 million in new capital, Siebel is looking to capitalize on what he labels as demand that, until now, was outpacing C3.ai's ability to deliver. And 2021 is going to be all about "sales capacity, service capacity, and more people working with our market partners."

Big Tech’s big job shuffle

Protocol reporters discuss a big week of moves in the tech industry, from Jack Dorsey to Gigi Sohn to Square – sorry, Block.

Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

On this episode of the Source Code podcast: Issie Lapowsky joins the show to discuss Jack Dorsey’s sudden exit from Twitter, the waning cult of the founder, and what’s next for the social network. Then, Ben Pimentel joins to chat about why Dorsey wanted to focus on Square, why Square is now called Block, and the company’s crypto-first future. Finally, Ben Brody chats about the confirmation hearings for Gigi Sohn and Alan Davidson, and what happens next in the Meta/Giphy antitrust saga.

For more on the topics in this episode:

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David Pierce

David Pierce ( @pierce) is Protocol's editorial director. Prior to joining Protocol, he was a columnist at The Wall Street Journal, a senior writer with Wired, and deputy editor at The Verge. He owns all the phones.

The fintech developers who made mobile banking as routine as texting or online shopping aren't done. The next frontier for innovation is open banking – fintech builders are enabling consumers to be at the center of where and how their data is used to provide the services they want and need.

Most people don't even realize they're using open banking services today. If they connected their investment and banking accounts in a personal financial management solution or app, they're using open banking. Perhaps they've seen ads about how they can improve their credit score by uploading pay stubs or utility records to that same app – this is also powered by open banking.

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Bob Schukai
Bob Schukai is Executive Vice President of Technology Development, New Digital Infrastructure & Fintech at Mastercard, where he leads the technical design, execution and support of innovative open banking and fintech solutions, as well as next generation technologies to support global payment and data capabilities. Prior to Mastercard, Schukai’s work focused on cognitive computing, financial technology, blockchain, user experience and digital identity. He is also a member of the Institute for Electrical and Electronics Engineers.

Meta, Block, Alphabet: Why some companies outgrow their old names

When tech becomes Big Tech, sometimes the names feel too small.

What do you do when your company becomes many companies? You might have to rebrand.

Photo: Block

What’s in a name? For tech companies, quite a lot.

Most companies in tech are named for their first product, whether it’s a social network, a shopping website, a search engine or a messaging service. But as big tech companies grow, their ambitions tend to sprawl, and their founding names often can’t keep up. So in recent years, tech giants like Meta, Block and Alphabet shifted from the names of their flagship products to something all-encompassing. But companies taking on a sleek new name isn’t just a marketing play. Brands often take new names to create distance between themselves and their flagship product.

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Nat Rubio-Licht
Nat Rubio-Licht is a Los Angeles-based news writer at Protocol. They graduated from Syracuse University with a degree in newspaper and online journalism in May 2020. Prior to joining the team, they worked at the Los Angeles Business Journal as a technology and aerospace reporter.

Loom, Zoom, boom: How Rippling raised $250 million with a demo video and a memo

Video app Loom has become the founder’s tool of choice for pitching venture capitalists.

Rippling CEO Parker Conrad recorded a product demo on Loom and sent it to investors as a fundraising shortcut.

Photo: Rippling

Parker Conrad has come to deeply loathe PowerPoint slides. He’s raised money for three different startups, and sending investors slides of a pitch deck feels like sending them only half a presentation, he said.

“It’s like sending someone a song and some of the tracks of music are missing,” Conrad, the co-founder and CEO of HR startup Rippling, told Protocol. “Any slide that you put together is meant to be accompanied by your voice track. And so if you’re sending slides without that, it’s a terrible way to convey information.”

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Biz Carson

Biz Carson ( @bizcarson) is a San Francisco-based reporter at Protocol, covering Silicon Valley with a focus on startups and venture capital. Previously, she reported for Forbes and was co-editor of Forbes Next Billion-Dollar Startups list. Before that, she worked for Business Insider, Gigaom, and Wired and started her career as a newspaper designer for Gannett.

The cry-laughing emoji has absolutely earned this

Is it always sincere or even trendy? No. Does it serve its purpose? Absolutely.

The laugh-cry emoji has provided us with a codified process for indicating that we are all having a fun time here.

Photo: atomicstudio via Getty Images

In a stunning victory for the rights of people who find out about TikToks via Instagram Reels and have fond memories of Warped tour, the cry-laughing emoji has once again emerged from the fray as the most-used emoji of the year, according to data from the Unicode Consortium. The tearful grin, whose Christian name is “Face with Tears of Joy,” hasn’t relinquished its stranglehold on the top spot since 2015, when we as a nation were reeling from Zayn Malik’s One Direction exit, marveling at the Sisyphean efforts of pizza rat and becoming slowly numb to Uptown Funk. That was the same year that the teary-eyed grin was named Oxford Dictionary’s word of the year.

This is the second year that the Unicode Consortium, a nonprofit organization tasked with digitizing language, has released data (the first was in 2019). Other emoji in the top 10 include the red heart, sobbing face, face with heart eyes and Old Faithful, the venerable smiley face 😊. The Consortium notes that many of the most-used emoji’s placements have stayed consistent from its 2019 data, although the pleading face emoji (🥺) did make a noticeable leap from 97 to 14.

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Becca Evans
Becca Evans is a copy editor and producer at Protocol. Previously she edited Carrie Ann Conversations, a wellness and lifestyle publication founded by Carrie Ann Inaba. She's also written for STYLECASTER. Becca lives in Los Angeles.
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