Hasso Plattner, the sometimes charming but occasionally irascible co-founder and joint chief executive of SAP, always gets a lot of press. But the nature of his recent press coverage tells a story. Lately, he has most been giving interviews to sailing magazines.
In fact, Plattner, appears to have more and more time for sailing and less for running SAP. He missed a recent annual results press conference in landlocked Frankfurt after a transatlantic yacht race finished later than expected, and he was away racing while SAP’s ‘Sapphire’ customer fair was taking place in Portugal last September. This left a big void: Plattner, a visionary technologist, is usually the keynote speaker.
All this suggests that Europe’s most successful software entrepreneur, at 59, is about to sail into the sunset. In a recent reshuffle, 34-year old Shai Agassi, founder of Top Tier, an SAP acquisition, was put in charge of all technology.
SAP denies Plattner is stepping down. But many insiders think Plattner is probably more interested in beating Oracle CEO Larry Ellison, his sailing nemesis, in a yacht race than he is in beating him to a large order. At least Plattner’s excuse for not turning up at a customer event is better than Ellison’s, who was once asked on a live video-link why he had not attended an event to meet his biggest customers, analysts and the press. “I never go to Philadelphia”, he blithely replied.