Who is Siebel Systems Inc. getting in George Shaheen, the long-time Siebel board member who took over last week as the companys third CEO in the past year? Will it be the visionary CEO who grew Andersen Consulting (now Accenture Ltd.) revenues eightfold between 1989 and 1999? Or will it be the leader who came to symbolize dot-com excess and mismanagement after running doomed Internet grocery delivery service Webvan Inc. for a year and a half, quitting shortly before the company folded?
Siebel officials, investors and customers are praying its the former.
"In George Shaheen, the board has identified the perfect leader for this company," said Siebel Chairman and co-founder Tom Siebel in announcing Shaheens hiring. "Hes a proven leader, a man with drive, a man with a commitment to excellence."
Shaheen helped Andersen blossom from a $1.1 billion company to an $8.3 billion giant, riding the systems integration boom of the 1990s.
He has been credited with helping Siebel grow into its market-leading position in CRM (customer relationship management) in the middle and late 90s, through a lucrative partnership deal Andersen signed with Siebel.
Shaheen moved to Webvan in October 1999 with grand plans to expand the Web grocery-delivery service nationwide. He engineered the acquisition of rival HomeGrocer.com in 2000 but failed to improve Webvans poor service, and he ended up leaving the doomed business in April 2001. Three months later, Webvan shut down.
Seth Harris, managing director of the technology practice for an executive search company, DHR International Inc., said Shaheens experience at Andersen outweighs his experience at Webvan. "Webvan tarnished him slightly, but hes still considered an excellent executive given his track record at Andersen," said Harris in Burlington, Mass.