Tom Siebel is the founder, CEO and chairman of C3 IoT, an IoT platform and applications company. During the 1980s Siebel worked and was an executive at Oracle. A serial entrepreneur, Siebel founded Siebel Systems in 1993 and sold it to Oracle for $5.8 billion in 2006. Shortly after founding C3 IoT in 2009, Siebel was gored by an elephant during a photo safari in Tanzania. He lost half his body fluid and required 19 surgeries to be able to fully walk again.
Q: Your 2009 elephant goring, tell us what happened.
Siebel: My wife and daughters wanted to go on safari in Africa. We stayed at a place called Faru Faru Lodge in the Serengeti, and spent about three days riding around in Land Rovers, before deciding we’d take a walking safari. I was armed with a Nikon camera, and the guide had a double-barrel .470 rifle. He explained that if we were charged by an animal it was very important not to run. You run, you’re going to get hurt. “Okay, fine. Got it.” And out we went for a walk.
It was daybreak, with not a breath of wind. We came upon a herd of elephants—about 15 of them, juveniles and adults—200 yards away. We stood there and watched for about five minutes. There must have been a little wind shift, because all of a sudden this one matriarch goes back on her haunches, flattens her ears back, lifts her trunk in the air and bellows. It was deafening. She then focuses and makes a beeline for us. She’s five tons and traveling at 30 miles an hour, so she covers 200 yards in no time at all. This elephant is coming in 150 yards, 100 yards; the guide doesn’t shoot. Eighty yards, 70 yards, 60 yards; the guide doesn’t shoot. Okay … 40 yards, 30 yards; the guide doesn’t shoot. He shoots at, maybe, 6 yards. And misses.
The elephant takes the guide and hurls him about 12 yards away. Then she comes up and stands right in front of me, not more than 18 inches from my face. I’ll never forget that moment as long as I live. Meanwhile, I’m following directions, trying not to run. Elephants can move 30 miles an hour, so you’re not going to outrun one, anyway. One one-thousand, two one-thousand, three one-thousand; there’s the elephant. I can see it, I can smell it—the hair follicles, the tusk, the hoof, the eyeball—everything. It’s like, “Okay. Fine. What are we going to do now?”
Then the elephant proceeds to knock me to the ground, rolling me and punching me. I took a tusk through my left leg. She stepped on my right leg, and my foot came off. I was taking hits that were just … the pain was unimaginable. I was holding onto my head, just trying to hold on for life, and I remember very clearly thinking, “Please, God, make this stop.” I’m not really sure I cared how it stopped. But it needed to stop, because I couldn’t take it any longer.