SAP to make do with one CEO after two-headed hub halved

Je ne regrette rien, says co-founder Hasso Plattner


SAP, the world’s largest business software maker, is losing one of its two CEOs and leaving Bill McDermott to rule them all.

The German giant said co-CEO Jim Hagemann Snabe will be shifting to the SAP supervisory board pending a shareholder election at next May's AGM.

Snabe said in a statement on the news: “I have decided that it is time for me to begin the next phase of my career, closer to my family.”

It now looks like SAP will have effectively a single full-time CEO for the next 10 months – current co-CEO McDermott, who has a strong sales background. There’s no word from SAP yet about whether McDermott will have another co-CEO slotted in alongside him.

No reason was given for the move.

The UK and Ireland SAP User Group said it was a shame that Snabe was moving on, but welcomed him to the advisory board as a "great customer advocate".

User group chairman Philip Adams reckoned it would be "interesting" to see if the product and customer focus would now continue in the CEO wheelhouse.

Adams said in a statement: "During their joint tenure Jim has been seen as the product guy and Bill as the sales guy, so it will be interesting to see if further changes are made to ensure there continues to be the same level of focus on product and customer value."

The change follows SAP’s most recent set of results that saw it sell more cloud and software subscriptions than actual software – sales of its trademark ERP and CRM dropped seven per cent. Overall, SAP sales grew just four per cent.

The under-performance was blamed on a weaker-than-expected revenue in the company’s Asia region while Europe was said to be "challenging". At the time, Snabe had declared himself pleased with SAP’s overall performance.

Hasso Plattner, SAP co-founder and chairman, said he was “incredibly proud” of what Snabe and McDermott had achieved together. “They have exceeded my expectations in expanding SAP’s market leadership and pprofitable growth,” he said in a statement.

Snabe was named co-CEO with McDermott in February 2010 after the resignation of CEO Leo Apotheker - who left after just one year in charge.

Prior to their ascension in 2010, both men had been loyal SAPers: Snabe had served as the firm’s head of product development, while McDermott had been head of SAP’s field organisation. ®

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