Siebel taps Michael J. Lawrie as new CEO

Siebel Systems Inc. Monday named Michael J. Lawrie as CEO, effective Tuesday. Thomas M. Siebel will continue as chairman of the board for the software company.

Lawrie, 50, was most recently senior vice president and group executive in sales and distribution at IBM Corp., and he led that company's global operations.

"Siebel Systems is the clear and undisputed leader in CRM, a market that is still largely untapped, offering a very significant opportunity for growth," Lawrie said in a statement.

In his role as chairman, Siebel will continue to offer input on Siebel Systems' business strategies and work with customers and partners, the company said. He will also represent the San Mateo, Calif.-based company with government and business leaders.

Siebel called Lawrie "the single best choice to lead and take Siebel Systems to the next level, and expand Siebel's CRM market leadership. ... He knows our company. He knows our product set. He knows our customers. He knows our market."

Siebel started the company in 1993 after rising through the executive ranks at Oracle Corp. Like his mentor Larry Ellison, he is known as an outspoken and domineering leader.

Siebel struck an upbeat note during an analyst and press Web cast late in the day, and said the move stemmed from a decision he made last year to divorce the roles of CEO and chairman. Siebel said he couldn't imagine "a more experienced or talented executive" than Lawrie, who had put in 27 years at IBM and managed 90,000 employees. "I can't imagine a better outcome for the company."

Lawrie's role will be to run the business and manage the executive team, while Siebel himself will remain an employee and "assist in any way I can. I'm not going anywhere."

He said he planned no "significant changes" to the current management team, and he intends to continue with the existing company strategy. Moreover, there would be no disruption to "the value and services we're continuing to deliver to our customers on a worldwide basis."

Lawrie has signed on to a company that appears to be on a rebound: Last month, Siebel announced first quarter software license revenues of US$126.8 million, up 13 percent from the same quarter in 2003, and net income of $31.7 million, up from $4.6 million year to year, an increase of 580 percent.

The company also announced that it has named John W. White to its board of directors. From February 1994 to October 1998, White served as vice president and CIO at Compaq Computer Corp. Before that, he served in various management and technical roles at Texas Instruments.

Lawrie's move appears to have kicked off an executive domino chain at IBM, which announced today that CFO John Joyce will now head its services group, with global financial manager Mark Loughridge stepping in as Joyce's successor.

Joyce replaces Doug Elix, a 30-year veteran of IBM who has run IBM Global Services since October 1999. Elix will now lead IBM's sales and distribution group, replacing Lawrie, IBM said.

Joyce, Elix and Loughridge will all report to IBM CEO Sam Palmisano, with Loughridge's successor in global financing to be named shortly, IBM said.

Marc Songini, of Computerworld, Stacy Cowley, of the IDG News Service, contributed to this report.

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