News Analysis: SAP's CEO Léo Apotheker Resigns

Apotheker's Contract Not Renewed.  SAP Puts Snabe and McDermott In Co-Ceo Roles.

Rumors began circulating early this weekend that Léo Apotehker's contract would not be renewed.  The highest level sources had confirmed this early in the morning and the afternoon press release provided confirmation of the details.  A few key facts:

  • SAP moves back to Co-CEO management structure. Bill McDermott, head of field organization and Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development become Co-CEO's. Point of View
    For undisclosed reasons, Leo's contract was not renewed. Both Bill and Jim have extensive experience at SAP and have been hard at work revitalizing the organization from both the sales and product sides.  Many observers may be surprised not to see former Business Objects CEO John Schwarz in the running.

  • Executive Board elevates role of products and technology. Vishal Sikka, chief technology officer (CTO) now appointed to the SAP Executive Board.
    Vishal has the trust and ear of Hasso Plattner and Jim Snabe.  The net result may be more unified road maps, better prioritization of R&D assets, and less issues with product development.

The Bottom Line - Timing Is Everything, But SAP's Inflection Point Is Good News For Customers

Though a seasoned executive with over 20 years with SAP, Leo was in the wrong place at the wrong time.  He was responsible for doing a bang up job in sales when Henning Kagermann (i.e. the former CEO) was around.   In fact, he made Henning look good despite the difficulties in launching mySAP ERP 2007, SAP ByD, and a host of other failed projects.  Unfortunately, he entered a down market while in charge of a sinking ship.  Low morale among the Walldorf engineering team, the issue with Enterprise Support and maintenance, and uncontrollable poor quarterly performance proved to be factors beyond his control.  Customers over the past 2 to 3 years began to wonder how to tap SAP's innovation.  A clear need emerged for having more technologists at the helm.
Putting McDermott as Co-CEO makes sense.  He is an excellent sales guys but the issues is not sales.  It's products.  Snabe and Vishal will need strong product vision to right SAP and point it in a forward direction.   Engineering and products need more attention to bring out trapped innovation at SAP.
Your POV
Are you an SAP customer?   How do you feel about the transition?  Would you like to learn more about:

  • Building a next gen SAP roadmap?
  • Improving your SAP apps strategy?
  • Augmenting SAP with SaaS?
  • Putting third party maintenance and optimization to work?

Please post or send on to rwang0 at gmail dot com or r at softwaresinsider dot org and we’ll keep your anonymity.

Related Links And Resources
Here's a list of related reports.
20100114 News Analysis: SAP Revives Two-Tier Maintenance Options
20091211 Event Report: 2009 SAP Influencer Summit - SAP Must Put Strategy To Execution In Order To Prove Clarity Of Vision
20091125 Speaker Notes: Keynote - SAP UK & Ireland User Group Conference 2009
Here’s a list of related links of news during Léo's tenure.  They will be added on an ongoing basis and updated as appropriate.

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