SAP boss unexpectedly quits, co-CEOs to step in

8 Feb 2010

German business software giant SAP has been rocked by the news that its chief executive Leo Apothekar is to step down with immediate effect. The company is returning to split leadership.

The move comes amid alleged customer dissatisfaction and what analysts have claimed is a lack of strategic direction. Apothekar was only in the role seven months.

SAP, a worldwide giant in the field of enterprise resource planning (ERP), is to return to split leadership with Bill McDermott, the company’s head of field organisation, and Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development, taking charge.

Apothekar was co-CEO along with Henning Kagermann, who retired last July.

SAP is one of the world’s biggest business software players and competes aggressively for blue-chip, government and SME business with players, like Oracle, IBM and Microsoft.

Customer dissatisfaction apparently stems from a controversial decision to raise fees unexpectedly in the US by 5pc.

The company was forced to back down after customers asked for performance indicators that would justify the increase in fees.

In October SAP, which employs more than 900 people in Ireland, reinforced its commitment to Ireland and said it is to invest a further €3 million in a refit of its Dublin headquarters and anticipates an overall €1-billion spend in Ireland over the next 10 years.

By John Kennedy

Photo: Bill McDermott, SAP’s head of field organisation

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years