Siebel: Step down from CEO Spot Planned for Past Year

UPDATED: In handing over the CEO post to longtime IBM exec Michael Lawrie, Tom Siebel says he decided a year ago to separate the roles of chairman and CEO.

Tom Siebels transition out of the CEOs office at his namesake CRM software company has been planned for the past year, Siebel said during a conference call with financial analysts Monday. Siebel is stepping down as CEO of Siebel Systems Inc. effective Tuesday, to be replaced by longtime IBM executive Michael Lawrie.

"This stems from a decision I made a little over a year ago to separate the roles of the chairman and CEO," said Siebel, who added that the move also would bring new seasoned leadership to Siebels executive team.

Siebel said Lawrie, who has spent virtually his entire professional career at IBM, was the top choice of Siebels executive search committee.

"Were very pleased that our first choice for the job ultimately accepted and assumed the role," Siebel said. Siebel noted that he and other executives at the company have worked closely with Lawrie for the past decade, pointing out that IBM is Siebels largest customer and marketing partner.

"I could not imagine a more experienced, more talented executive," Siebel said.

While Lawrie will now run the day-to-day management of the company and oversee other executives there, Siebel said he intends to maintain an active role while staying on as chairman of the board.

"I will continue to be active in the business; Ill work with partners and customers and work with Mike. Ill do whatever it takes to get the job done."

Lawrie, who described Siebel Systems as the "undisputed leader" in a market that remains "largely unpenetrated," said his role would be to grow the company.

He said he has no intention of shaking up the rest of the executive team.

"Well move forward with the team we have," Lawrie said. "I dont anticipate making significant changes" in management.

Siebel founded the company in 1993 and built it into the top CRM software company in terms of market share. But the companys fortunes have slid in recent years, with revenues down on a year-over-year basis for 11 straight quarters. The company, which Siebel often boasted had been profitable since its inception, reported more than $100 million in losses in the process, though it has returned to profitability.

As its revenues have fallen, Siebel also has been hit by shareholder lawsuits over expensing of options and alleged overstating of business performance, as well as being fined by the SEC for alleged disclosure violations.

/zimages/6/28571.gifClick here to read more about a class-action shareholder lawsuit against the company.

Separating the CEOs and chairmans duties has become increasingly common at public companies, largely for corporate governance reasons. Oracle CEO Larry Ellison recently gave up the position of chairman.

Siebel indicated that he will continue to be active in the company.

"Ill help with the team any way I can," he said. "Im not going away."´

Editors Note: This story was updated to include information and comments from a conference call with Tom Siebel.

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