Liautaud Takes the Money and Runs - InformationWeek
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1/30/2008
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Doug Henschen
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Liautaud Takes the Money and Runs

Business Objects announced today that its founder, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Bernard Liautaud, has resigned from those roles and will join SAP's supervisory board in June. With the acquisition of Business Objects by SAP all but complete and the BI agenda being set, at best, by committee, Liautaud is heading for the exit (a well-trod path by executives in his shoes), free to enjoy the well-earned spoils of his success.

Business Objects announced today that its founder, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Bernard Liautaud, has resigned from those roles and will join SAP's supervisory board in June. With the acquisition of Business Objects by SAP all but complete and the BI agenda being set, at best, by committee, Liautaud is heading for the exit (a well-trod path for executives in his shoes), free to enjoy the well-earned spoils of his success."The industry I helped create almost two decades ago has changed dramatically over the years, and I am very proud to say that Business Objects has consistently been a pioneer in bringing innovation to the market," stated Liautaud in a farewell press release. "The vision we started out with is now a reality and the need for business intelligence has become pervasive across enterprises large and small."

Liautaud said business intelligence is now "at a tipping point," and he expressed confidence that SAP and Business Objects together would continue to innovate. But it was Liautaud who was at the center of so much of the company's innovation since its founding in 1990. Sure, John Schwarz is still CEO of Business Objects, but he's a relative newcomer who joined the company in 2005 to "bring it to the next level," code words for grooming the company for sale, just as Howard Dresner did for Hyperion.

It was telling during the mid-January fait accompli press conference that Doug Merritt, an SAP corporate officer who is joining Business Objects, offered some of the most detailed and forward-looking insight into where SAP and Business Objects are headed together. For now, Merritt, who is based in SAP's Palo Alto, CA, offices, will lead the development of "business optimization applications," which is precisely where BI will meet enterprise apps, but I won't be surprised to see him take a wider role, eventually, just as I won't be surprised to learn of John Schwarz's resignation within the next 18 months - a typical waiting period for executives of acquired companies.

Liautaud certainly didn't have a corner on innovation, but his resignation from all executive positions confirms to me that despite the pre-acquisition spin, Business Objects will "stand alone" in the shadow of SAP. Let's hope that doesn't mean an end to the innovation.Business Objects announced today that its founder, Chairman and Chief Strategy Officer, Bernard Liautaud, has resigned from those roles and will join SAP's supervisory board in June. With the acquisition of Business Objects by SAP all but complete and the BI agenda being set, at best, by committee, Liautaud is heading for the exit (a well-trod path by executives in his shoes), free to enjoy the well-earned spoils of his success.

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