Thomas Siebel

NET WORTH: $2.3 billion

SOURCE OF WEALTH: Siebel Systems

FUNDING AREAS: Poverty, Education, Health, Energy, Curbing Drug Use

OVERVIEW: Through the Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, Siebel strives to apply the same traits that made him a hugely successful businessman to projects designed to alleviate poverty, enhance education and research programs, find alternative energy solutions, and curb methamphetamine abuse. Since its creation in 2000, the foundation has granted more than $250 million to hundreds of nonprofits. 

BACKGROUND: When Thomas Siebel became a tech entrepreneur in 1993, there was virtually no market for the product he envisioned, which was software that allowed businesses to better communicate and interact with clients and customers in a way that improved a business's sales marketing and customer service operations. Yet, Siebel was undaunted. He launched Siebel Systems, which would eventually be touted as the fastest-growing company in America in 1999 and 2000. Siebel himself was named one of the top 25 Managers in Global Business every year from 1999 through 2002. Siebel seems to envision a solution to a problem and attack that problem with all he has.

PHILOSOPHY: Siebel dubbed his giving "strategic philanthropy" when he founded the Siebel Scholars program in 2000. Others have referred to it as "catalytic philanthropy" due to his tendency to attack societal problems himself, rather than simply cut a check to an established charity and let it do all the work. 

ISSUES: 

EDUCATION: The Siebel Scholars program looks to create a stockpile of future leaders by recognizing the best graduate school students in business, computer science, and bioengineering with a $35,000 grant for their final year of study. In return, they serve as advisers to the Siebel Foundation. All of this is designed to create a community of sorts, a brain trust for the future, and to give the foundation the minds and tools it needs to solve our most pressing social issues.

Siebel also clearly loves his alma mater, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Among his largest grants was $32 million to build the Siebel Center for Computer Science at the school, which opened in 2004. He also donated $4 million to the school to establish two endowed full professorships: the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in the History of Science and the Thomas M. Siebel Chair in Computer Science. In 2007, he pledged another $100 million gift to the school.

ENVIRONMENT: In 2007, the Siebel Foundation created the Energy Free Home Foundation, which offered $20 million in prizes to anyone who could design and build a conventional 2,000-square-foot, three-bedroom, two-bath home with market appeal and competitive building costs and which saw net-zero annual utility bills. He made several announcements about the Energy Free Home Challenge, stating that the contest would start in "late 2009." All mention of the challenge later disappeared without explanation however, and little evidence of the contest exists these days.

HEALTH: In 2008, Siebel established the Siebel Stem Cell Institute as a joint initiative between the University of California, Berkeley Stem Cell Center and the Stanford Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine. The Siebel Stem Cell Institute's collaborative approach boasts of having developed new techniques for several types of cancers, allowing for more specialized treatment.

DRUG ABUSE: Another of the Siebel Foundation's major undertakings is the Meth Project Foundation. The program was initiated in 2005 as a way to significantly reduce methamphetamine abuse at a time when meth was considered the main source of crime in the United States. The Meth Project has been praised by the federal government, and Barron's once referred to it as the third most effective philanthropic organization in the world. 

POVERTY: The Siebel Foundation gives hundreds of grants of $1,000 to $10,000 available to nonprofits that help the homeless and the underpriviledged throughout the country, in addition to grants of $200,000 to $1 million to fill the Salvation Army kettles in the Bay Area, the Siebels' home state of Montana, and New York City every Christmas.

ENERGY: In 2015, the Siebels launched the $10 million Siebel Energy Institute, an association of eight universities who combined received an initial grant sum of $1 million for energy infrastructure research.

Siebel, who previously founded Siebel Systems after working at Oracle in the 1980s, started C3 IoT in 2009 with the name of C3 Energy. He changed the name after expanding beyond the energy companies it was first focused on. The company’s big data, predictive analytics, and machine learning software solutions deliver unprecedented business outcomes for the global energy industry. 

LOOKING FORWARD: With the recent unveiling of the Siebel Energy Institute, look for the Siebel's to both continue work on sustainable energy, as well as perhaps a shift in focus to drug policy reform and more abuse prevention programs. 

CONTACT:

  • Nitsa Zuppas, Executive Director, Thomas and Stacey Siebel Foundation, 1300 Seaport Boulevard, Suite 400, Redwood City, CA 94063, 650-299-5260

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