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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."

Power

Yes, GameStop is a content moderation issue for Reddit

The same tools that can be used to build mass movements can be used by bad actors to manipulate the masses later on. Consider Reddit warned.

WallStreetBets' behavior may not be illegal. But that doesn't mean it's not a problem for Reddit.

Image: Omar Marques/Getty Images

The Redditors who are driving up the cost of GameStop stock just to pwn the hedge funds that bet on its demise may not be breaking the law. But this show of force by the subreddit r/WallStreetBets still represents a new and uncharted front in the evolution of content moderation on social media platforms.

In a statement to Protocol, a Reddit spokesperson said the company's site-wide policies "prohibit posting illegal content or soliciting or facilitating illegal transactions. We will review and cooperate with valid law enforcement investigations or actions as needed."

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Issie Lapowsky
Issie Lapowsky (@issielapowsky) is a senior reporter at Protocol, covering the intersection of technology, politics, and national affairs. Previously, she was a senior writer at Wired, where she covered the 2016 election and the Facebook beat in its aftermath. Prior to that, Issie worked as a staff writer for Inc. magazine, writing about small business and entrepreneurship. She has also worked as an on-air contributor for CBS News and taught a graduate-level course at New York University’s Center for Publishing on how tech giants have affected publishing. Email Issie.
Protocol | Enterprise

SAP unveiled a big sales promo. It's a bid to juice cloud customer numbers.

The move is the culmination of CEO Christian Klein's efforts to turn around the German software giant.

SAP unveiled "RISE with SAP" on Wednesday.

Image: SAP

SAP CEO Christian Klein is trying out a major sales gambit in his attempt to get more customers onboard the software giant's signature cloud platform.

A new offer unveiled on Wednesday called "RISE with SAP" bundles together several products, including the flagship S/4 HANA platform, under one contract with a flat cost, a promotion that the company is hoping will encourage more users to more quickly switch from the on-premise services that dominated the company's product line until the last few years.

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Joe Williams

Joe Williams is a senior reporter at Protocol covering enterprise software, including industry giants like Salesforce, Microsoft, IBM and Oracle. He previously covered emerging technology for Business Insider. Joe can be reached at JWilliams@Protocol.com. To share information confidentially, he can also be contacted on a non-work device via Signal (+1-309-265-6120) or JPW53189@protonmail.com.

Protocol | China

Everything you need to know about the Kuaishou IPO

Kuaishou could raise just over $6 billion at a $60 billion valuation.

Kuaishou's livestreaming platform is part Twitch, part QVC.

Photo: Visual China Group/Getty Images

Kuaishou has more daily active users than Twitter and Snapchat. Still, it wouldn't be all that surprising if you've never heard of the short-form video and livestreaming platform; Kuaishou maintains a relatively low profile outside of China. Within China, the Beijing-based company has charted an ambitious plan to create a platform that seamlessly blends ecommerce, livestreaming, short-form video and gaming distribution.

In the lead-up to its Hong Kong stock exchange trading debut slated for Feb. 5, Kuaishou could raise just over $6 billion at a $60 billion valuation. If Kuaishou succeeds, it will have pulled off one of the largest IPOs in recent years.

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Hirsh Chitkara
Hirsh Chitkara (@ChitkaraHirsh) is a researcher at Protocol, based out of New York City. Before joining Protocol, he worked for Business Insider Intelligence, where he wrote about Big Tech, telecoms, workplace privacy, smart cities, and geopolitics. He also worked on the Strategy & Analytics team at the Cleveland Indians.
Protocol | China

More women are joining China's tech elite, but 'Wolf Culture' isn't going away

It turns out getting rid of misogyny in Chinese tech isn't just a numbers game.

Chinese tech companies that claim to value female empowerment may act differently behind closed doors.

Photo: Qilai Shen/Getty Images

A woman we'll call Fan had heard about the men of Alibaba before she joined its high-profile affiliate about three years ago. Some of them were "greasy," she said, to use a Chinese term often describing middle-aged men with poor boundaries. Fan tells Protocol that lewd conversations were omnipresent at team meetings and private events, and even women would feel compelled to crack off-color jokes in front of the men. Some male supervisors treated younger female colleagues like personal assistants.

Within six months, despite the cachet the lucrative job carried, Fan wanted to quit.

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Shen Lu

Shen Lu is a Reporter with Protocol | China. She has spent six years covering China from inside and outside its borders. Previously, she was a fellow at Asia Society's ChinaFile and a Beijing-based producer for CNN. Her writing has appeared in Foreign Policy, The New York Times and POLITICO, among other publications. Shen Lu is a founding member of Chinese Storytellers, a community serving and elevating Chinese professionals in the global media industry.

Microsoft wants to replace artists with AI

Better Zoom calls, simpler email attachments, smart iPhone cases and other patents from Big Tech.

Turning your stories into images.

Image: USPTO/Microsoft

Hello and welcome to 2021! The Big Tech patent roundup is back, after a short vacation and … all the things … that happened between the start of the year and now. It seems the tradition of tech companies filing weird and wonderful patents has carried into the new year; there are some real gems from the last few weeks. Microsoft is trying to outsource all creative endeavors to AI; Apple wants to make seat belts less annoying; and Amazon wants to cut down on some of the recyclable waste that its own success has inevitably created.

And remember: The big tech companies file all kinds of crazy patents for things, and though most never amount to anything, some end up defining the future.

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Mike Murphy

Mike Murphy ( @mcwm) is the director of special projects at Protocol, focusing on the industries being rapidly upended by technology and the companies disrupting incumbents. Previously, Mike was the technology editor at Quartz, where he frequently wrote on robotics, artificial intelligence, and consumer electronics.

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