I've known that Bill Wohl is leaving SAP for a few days for HP. Today, AllThings D confirmed, showing memos to that effect.
The way I am hearing it being parsed on Twitter is as if it is a big deal.
I've known Bill for maybe five years. The first time we crossed swords was at a European event where I accused (then board member Shai Agassi) of pissing on the competition. Bill jumped on me saying 'There is no pissing going on here.'
Since that time I've come to respect Bill as someone who has a tough job. In December 2008 he called me up trying to get me to see SAP as being kindly to its customers at a time when the SAP maintenance battle was in full swing. He didn't convince though I give him credit for trying.
In the subsequent period I have come to know Bill better. He's a PR Rottweiller. Yet at the same time he has respect for those who know their stuff. He is one of a kind and those who have worked with him have nothing other than good words to say. As someone on the 'other side of the fence' I find it hard to disagree.
Bill was the person who through others finagled the 'Quality' photo shoot with SAP co-CEO Bill Mc Dermott. Despite my personal distaste for brand pimping, I am grateful that Bill was instrumental in making that happen.
So what about his move to HP? Some people conflate this to be part of an SAP exodus. How ridiculous is that? Do those same people, starved of media attention have any clue about the world of enterprise applications or the bench strength that companies like SAP are able to enjoy?
Bill, in his position as PR minder for SAP co-CEO Bill McDermott might be important but I rather suspect his role as community volunteer fire fighter where he lives will be much more missed when he departs for California.
While I have a great deal of time for Bill and look forward to crossing swords again in his new role I doubt even he would believe his primary role at SAP or HP is that important. He's not that arrogant. And I do wish that those who see more into these things than really matters would temper their opinion with facts about the impact individuals really have.
Bill has been a very important influence at SAP. His time is done. He has a more important role at HP. We should celebrate that rather than gasp at what some see as a rush for the SAP exit door.