February 7, 2010
SAP announced Sunday that it has accepted the resignation of its CEO Leo Apotheker. The company immediately appointed Bill McDermott, the current head of SAP's field organization, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, the current head of product development, to serve as co-CEOs.
Apotheker's departure comes less than a year after becoming the sole CEO of SAP. He served for one year as co-CEO with longtime top executive Henning Kagermann and had been on the company's Executive Board since 2002. Apotheker's brief tenure at the top was marked by controversy, including a protracted and very public battle over maintenance and support contracts, delays tied to the company's Business ByDesign software-as-a-service offering, and, most recently, a spat with Gartner over its SAP BusinessObjects Magic Quadrant ranking. The seeds of all of these controversies were sewn before Apotheker ascended to the top of the company. SAP did not make it clear, in a press release issued Sunday, whether SAP's Supervisory Board declined to renew Apotheker's contract due to poor handling of these matters or the due to the poor financial performance of SAP over the last year. "Leo was in the wrong place at the wrong time," analyst R "Ray" Wang of Altimeter Group told InformationWeek. "He made Henning Kagermann look good, doing a bang up job in sales, but he entered a down market in charge of a sinking ship." Apotheker was loved by SAP's sales teams, but Wang says the executive's brash style rubbed some the wrong way at company headquarters. "The bottom line is that SAP needs a good technologist in place as they have to right-size the roadmap," Wang said. Assessing SAP's new co-CEOs, Bill McDermott's experience and strength is in sales and operational execution; it will fall on Jim Hagemann Snabe, who has spent nearly 20 years at SAP, to forge product direction. A press conference on the resignation and new executive appointments is scheduled for Monday morning.
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