SAP Board to CEO: Auf Wiedersehen, Sweetheart
Leo Apotheker has resigned as CEO of SAP AG after the German software company’s supervisory board declined to renew his contract. SAP offered no reason for the departure, insisting it was by “mutual consent,” though this hardly seems the case given the fate of Apotheker’s contract.
Voluntary or otherwise, Apotheker’s exit had been rumored for months. Under his leadership, SAP (SAP) posted its first annual drop in revenue since 2003 and announced the first mass layoffs in the company’s history. That said, Apotheker hasn’t had an easy time of it; righting a company like SAP in a down market is a near Sisyphean challenge by any measure.
As Ray Wang notes over at Enterprise Advocates, “Though a seasoned executive with over 20 years with SAP, Leo was in the wrong time wrong place….He entered a down market while in charge of a sinking ship. Low morale among the Walldorf engineering team, the issue with Enterprise Support and maintenance, and uncontrollable poor quarterly performance proved to be factors beyond his control. Customers over the past 2 to 3 years began to wonder how to tap SAP’s innovation. A clear need emerged for having more technologists at the helm.”
Apotheker will be succeeded immediately by two co-CEOs: Jim Hagemann Snabe, head of product development, and Bill McDermott, head of field organization. Their ascension to the top spot returns SAP to the co-CEO structure the company used before Apotheker took the reins alone just seven months ago.