SAP sets succession plan; Apotheker named co-CEO

SAP sets succession plan; Apotheker named co-CEO

Summary: Update: SAP said Wednesday that it has named Leo Apotheker [at right] co-CEO with Henning Kagermann in a move that solidifies the company's succession plan. Kagermann's contract with SAP runs out in May 2009.

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Leo ApothekerUpdate: SAP said Wednesday that it has named Leo Apotheker [at right] co-CEO with Henning Kagermann in a move that solidifies the company's succession plan. Kagermann's contract with SAP runs out in May 2009.

SAP made the announcement in a company statement.

Apotheker's role as co-CEO is effective immediately.

SAP said "from today on, Henning Kagermann and Leo Apotheker will jointly guide the future" of the ERP giant. SAP also said it will add Erwin Gunst, who is now chief operating officer, Bill McDermott, who will have responsibility for all sales regions worldwide, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, who has development responsibility for the SAP Business Suite and NetWeaver platform, to its executive board effective July 1.

With the shuffling, SAP sets its inner circle that will take the applications company into the future. Kagermann said:

After years of massive investments and the successful launch of trendsetting innovations in the areas of service-oriented architecture, new solutions and business models for the midmarket, the use of main memory databases and modern analytics as well as state-of-the-art user interfaces, SAP now faces the task of boosting the application of these innovations among our customers and end users.

That quote is telling. My read: SAP has advanced its technology and architecture. Now it needs to sell those applications and architectures. Apotheker, a salesman by trade, will be responsible for selling them.

Dennis Howlett also noted that SAP's appointment of Apotheker shows a strong focus on sales. Howlett wrote:

In the last year, SAP has been fighting an uphill struggle for public mindshare as rival Oracle has successfully bedded down its acquisitions. This has seen Oracle accelerate revenues, which until recently had included healthy license sales growth. Strengthening the board in this way changes SAP’s emphasis and I suspect it will mean the company becomes more aggressive in the sales cycle.

Initial post: SAP will Leo Apotheker as co-CEO with Henning Kagermann in a move that sets in motion an easy transition in the short run, but may raise some longer term questions among SAP watchers.

Howlett reported:

The move signals that rather than extend his contract of service with the company which runs out in May 2009, Henning Kagermann has decided to hand over the reins of power to the company’s top sales person. Together with Hasso Plattner, co-founder of SAP, Kagermann was co-chairman of the SAP Executive Board and CEO from 1998 to 2003.

SAP typically transitions power by naming co-CEOs. For SAP customers, the transition will be smooth. The thing to watch in a few years will be SAP's long-term strategy and how it will shape up with Apotheker at the helm.

More to follow later in the day when SAP makes Apotheker's role official.

Topics: Enterprise Software, Legal, SAP

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