14 March 2003 Following weeks of speculation enterprise software giant SAP, has confirmed that co-founder and joint CEO Hasso Plattner is retiring from the day-to-day management of the company.
Rumours of Plattner’s imminent retirement surfaced earlier in the year when SAP appointed 34-year old Shai Agassi, founder of Top Tier — an SAP acquisition — as head of the company’s technology strategy. Fifty-nine year old Plattner is a renowned technologist and had been in charge of SAP’s product development since the company’s inception in 1972.
The job of running SAP day-to-day will now fall solely to Henning Kagermann, 55, who has been joint-CEO alongside Plattner for the last five years. Meanwhile, Plattner will become chairman of SAP’s supervisory board, which, the company says, will ensure that “SAP’s fast-changing industry, up-to-date technology and solution know-how is even better represented on the supervisory board”.
Commenting on his move, Plattner said, “Today we have the right organisation in place to capitalise on the next technology wave, we are executing extremely well and gaining market share in a tough market. That makes this the right time for me to hand over the day-to-day business entirely.”
Kagermann, the first non-founder to run SAP, is viewed as an efficient and capable manager. He is also credited with transforming SAP from a product development company into a “solutions provider”. However, he lacks the charisma of Plattner and has always operated in his shadow.
Plattner, who founded SAP with four colleagues from IBM, is arguably the Europe’s most successful technology entrepreneur – and one of the richest. His 12% stake in SAP is worth around $2.6 billion. A skilled guitarist and sailor, he is now expected to devote more time to his leisure pursuits.
However, according to SAP, Plattner will continue to play an active and visible role within the company, and will retain his offices both at Walldorf, Germany and in Palo Alto, California.