C3: Siebel, Condoleezza Rice, and Close to $26M

I’ve been hearing rumblings about C3, the carbon-focused stealthy startup from Thomas Siebel — the guy who sold Siebel Systems to Oracle (s ORCL) for billions of dollars — for the past couple of months. But TechCrunch has the kicker on them this week. The company has filed several D-filings with the SEC in recent weeks, in which they disclosed that they are in the process of raising close to $26 million, and have high profile political directors including former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice, and former Senator and Secretary of Energy Spencer Abraham.

While C3 isn’t speaking publicly right now, back in February Siebel gave some clues into C3 and what the company would be doing during a speech at the Alliance of Chief Executives meeting. Enterprise software to help companies manage their carbon footprint, according to two people that attended the speech (Dave Kellogg, the CEO of Mark Logic, and Drue Kataoka of ValleyZen). Both reported that C3 would be focused on helping companies “monitor, mitigate and monetize” their carbon footprint.

The company is run by Oracle veterans Patricia House (who co-founded Siebel Systems), Ed Abbo and Lenley Hensarling. According to several things I’ve heard (but I haven’t confirmed with the company), I think C3 stands for “Carbon Conscious Consumers.”

According to Kellogg, who attended and took notes on Siebel’s talk, C3 was founded in January 2009, operations were planned to begin in February 2009, “the product spec” was supposed to be completed by summer 2009, and a demonstrable product was supposed to be available later on in the fall of 2009. I’m not sure if that timeline was maintained as C3 declined to be interviewed.

Board members beyond Rice and Abraham, include S. Shankar Sastry, the dean of engineering at UC Berkeley, points out Greentech Media (GTM speculates that some of the tech could be coming from Berkeley).

But at the end of the day, if the company is working on enterprise software for carbon management, I really want to know what makes its idea so compelling as to recruit so many high profile execs and board members. There are already over 22 different carbon management firms, including Hara, which has its own high-profile backers with political connections.

Oracle itself and SAP have also moved into the carbon management space. Carbon management software isn’t really about innovative technology at this point — it’s about getting big, getting customers and getting ready for the U.S. Congress to pass a climate bill with a cap and trade system in it. The climate bill is looking more and more difficult to pass as of late, but the carbon management market is still really large (with international carbon markets and voluntary compliance) and will only grow larger over the coming years.