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Siebel Steps Down as CEO; Shuffle at IBM

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Posted May 3, 2004 By Susan Kuchinskas     Feedback

The CRM leader will relinquish the CEO role to an executive of long-time partner IBM, while Big Blue's CFO John Joyce is headed for Global Services.

Long-time CRM player Siebel Systems shook up its senior ranks today with news that its founder Tom Siebel has relinquished the chief executive role.

Former IBM senior executive and vice president Michael J. Lawrie will take over as CEO.

Lawrie, a 26-year IBM veteran, most recently led its global operations as senior vice president and group executive, sales and distribution. He is slated to join the San Mateo, Calif.-based CRM software vendor on Tuesday.

Siebel will continue as chairman of the board, and, the company was careful to note, will remain a full-time employee. He'll represent the company with business and government leaders, handle customer and partner relationships, and weigh in on Siebel's business strategies.

During a conference call, Siebel said he had worked with Lawrie for more than five years. As Siebel's largest customer and largest marketing partner, the companies together closed more than $1 billion in revenue in the last 12 months, Siebel said.

Lawrie said he'd left IBM on very good terms. "I wanted to take advantage of my experiences in IBM over the last 26 years and apply them to an institution I felt I could make a difference with," Lawrie said in the conference call. He said his global perspective and customer and partner relationships derived from global operations were among the skills he felt he could leverage at Siebel Systems.

Lawrie said he doesn't anticipate any other major changes in management. "The intention is to stay with the team, strategy and game plan, " he said. The most important thing is no disruption to the company." He said growth is part of the CEO agenda, and that the CRM market is still under-penetrated. However, the market is shifting, with customers demanding a return on investment in a shorter time frame.

Siebel said he'd made the decision to separate the CEO and chairman jobs more than a year ago. The company used executive search firms to find candidates, and Lawrie was the first choice. "I have no intention of pursuing new opportunities," Siebel said. "I will remain an employee and I'll contribute any way I can. I think our partners and customers feel they can reach out to me whenever they feel so inclined and I assure you that line will remain open to them."

"The roles are very clear," he said, "Mike is the CEO and the company reports to Mike. But I'm not going anywhere."

In related news, IBM announced a more complicated executive shuffle to fill Lawrie's spot.

In an announcement today, IBM said CFO John Joyce would become senior vice president and group executive for IBM's Global Services division, which brings in more than half of IBM roughly $80 billion annual revenues.

Taking Joyce's slot would be Mark Loughridge, the former head of IBM's Global Financing, who now becomes senior vice president and CFO.

IBM also said Doug Elix is now senior vice president and group executive for sales and distribution.

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