SAP Co-CEO Snabe Plans To Step Down

Bill McDermott will become sole CEO by 2014 as Jim Hagemann Snabe moves on and power shifts within SAP's executive team.
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SAP announced Sunday that Jim Hagemann Snabe, 47, will transition from his role as co-CEO at the conclusion of the company's annual shareholders meeting next May, at which time Bill McDermott will become sole CEO.

"After more than 20 years with SAP, I have decided that it is time for me to begin the next phase of my career, closer to my family," said Snabe in a statement issued by SAP. "What the entire SAP team has achieved since 2010 is remarkable, and the momentum we have built is now driving the transformation of the industry."

The move was made at Snabe's request, according to SAP, and the company will have 10 months to consider the redistribution of Snabe's responsibilities. McDermott and Snabe were thrust into their current roles in early 2010 after former CEO Leo Apotheker was asked to resign after less than a year at the helm. At the time, SAP's financial results were lagging and it was mired in a very public battle over maintenance and support contracts. SAP co-founder, former CEO and chairman Hasso Plattner, who helped engineer the boardroom shakeup, said new leadership would help restore trust, responsiveness and innovation.

Within a few short months, McDermott, previously head of SAP's field organization, and Snabe, previously head of product development, announced the acquisition of Sybase, and the two executives also launched the company's three-pronged cloud, mobile and in-memory innovation strategy, which is credited with driving three years of double-digit growth.

[ Want more on recent SAP management moves? Read SAP Loses 'Cloud DNA' As Lars Dalgaard Steps Down. ]

Leading from the U.S. and Europe, respectively, McDermott, the exuberant American sales veteran, and Snabe, the soft-spoken, multilingual Dane, have complemented each other well. But McDermott has been the more dominant figure, leading off nearly all of SAP's earnings announcements, with Snabe typically mopping up with technical strategy perspectives.

There have been signs of executive discord at SAP in recent months, with Lars Dalgaard resigning from the company's executive board in June and Vishal Sikka, Hasso Plattner's protégé, consolidating control over all development activities. Late last week, Sanjay Poonen, president and corporate officer for SAP technology & innovation products, announced he is leaving the company.

InformationWeek sources, including insiders and former employees, say Plattner and Sikka wield considerable control within SAP, setting product priorities and strategies with little input from others.

Snabe's decision to step down was described as strictly personal, and SAP said that the company will put him on the ballot to join the company's supervisory board next May. If approved, he would serve alongside Plattner and 14 other supervisory board members.