What is C3.AI?

If enterprise scale AI existed, what would it look like? C3.AI tries to take on that mantle. Check its website here. See its Disruptor 50 profile here.

By the way, it’s going IPO with a market valuation of around $3.3 Billion. C3.ai posted an initial IPO price range of $31 to $34 per share, with the company anticipating a sale of 15.5 million shares at that price.

C3.ai was launched in 2009 by Tom Siebel, who started and sold Siebel Systems, the customer relationship management software firm, to Oracle in 2006, for $6 billion.

Its stock market symbol will be AI, so that’s a funny tall order to fill. C3.ai, the enterprise AI software company, filed its S-1 prospectus for an IPO with the Securities and Exchange Commission on Friday. Read the S-1 filing here. December 2020 might be one of the best times in history to go IPO, truth be told.

Liquidity is high, interest rates are low, the Fed over-spent on bonds and a vaccine is coming. The company began life as a software venture for the energy industry. But after the recession, when spending on software in the energy industry had all but dried up, Siebel course corrected. What’s an AI firm if not a pivot, am I right?

It has deep ties now with Microsoft to bring enterprise AI to market. C3.ai also has Bank of America, Koch Industries, AstraZeneca, the U.S. Air Force, Army Aviation and the military’s U.S. Strategic Command as customers. The Redwood City, California-based company has raised $387 million from investors.

So what does the company claim to be and to do? C3.ai is a leading enterprise AI software provider for accelerating digital transformation. C3.ai delivers the C3 AI Suite for developing, deploying, and operating large-scale AI, predictive analytics, and IoT applications in addition to an increasingly broad portfolio of turn-key AI applications. Okay, fair enough.

C3.ai’s software can read massive amounts of data and tell its owners — companies in industries such as aerospace, financial services, health care, retailing and utilities — if something is about to break down, or the most efficient ways to use sensor data in their supply chain management.

The company has developed its own platform-as-a-service, or PaaS, a set of building blocks for putting together a system to analyze data coming from a variety of signals, including traditional databases, but also Internet signals such as social media and, perhaps most important, sensors, including the kinds of sensors industrial companies might build into equipment in the field that they want to monitor. It’s also trying to apply AI to sales and marketing to some degree.

In an era of Green tech and Microsoft’s AI for Good mission statement, C3 seems an apt child. C3 came out of philanthropic work Siebel was doing in 2007 and 2008, after selling to Oracle. He was concerned with making an impact on the planet’s energy and climate issues.

While DoorDash and Airbnb await the IPOs, C3 is a bit like Snowflake, it could have a lot of upside. It’s attempting that thing called pragmatic AI, something China appears to be much better at than the United States. The thing is C3’s growth is not spectacular at all. Siebal is a bit of a digital transformation Guru. He believes that the century ahead will be one of of “corporate mass extinction,” noting that 52 percent of the Fortune 500 have fallen off the list since 2000.

Last year, Siebel wrote a book, his fourth, entitled Digital Transformation: Survive and Thrive in an Era of Mass Extinction. I like how C3.AI’s business model is multi-pronged. How can this be? Well, it provides applications for multiple commercial uses, including:

  • Energy management
  • Predictive maintenance
  • Fraud Detection
  • Anti-Money laundering
  • Inventory Optimization
  • Predictive CRM

It’s pretty much the kind of company Microsoft would want to acquire one day. C3.AI already works with Azure Cloud really well. For instance in next-gen CRM.

C3 is really an IoT intersection company with some AI features. They have spent a decade and roughly half a billion dollars building a software suite that they typically market to large multinational organizations. This suite allows them to design, develop, provision or operate enterprise and industrial-scale artificial intelligence [AI] and Internet of Things [IoT] applications. Those clients really are lucrative, so I like this business model very much.

For these reasons, C3.AI might be worth investing in, in early 2021 especially if the stock price comes down. I think at over $40 it is too pricey. C3.ai posted an initial IPO price range of $31 to $34 per share, with the company anticipating a sale of 15.5 million shares at that price.

C3.AI is an enabler of businesses to catch up to digitally native businesses like Amazon, Tesla, Airbnb and so forth. When we think of the intersection and vectors of elastic cloud computing, big data, IoT, and AI, that’s a very lucrative hook.

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