You’ve seen the news – Jim Hagemann Snabe is stepping down as SAP’s Co-CEO. This is yet another knot on a string of announcements in just two months. Yes, SAP’s senior management team is in transition – towards what? In May, SAP’s cloudmaster Lars Dalgaard (former SuccessFactors) left SAP to become an investor. SAP’s head of personnel, Luisa Delgado also bowed out. This was followed by the self-tweeted announcement of mobilemaster Sanjay Poonen leaving SAP on the first of August. The announcement of Jim Hagemann Snabe’s step down from his co-CEO booth confirmed rumours that had been fluttering for a while now. SAP’s Advisory Board has proposed Hagemann Snabe to be elected to SAP’s Advisory Board in the annual general meeting in May 2014. Provided this proposition is supported by over a fourth of the votes, Jim will join a group of 16 members whose terms end in 2017.
Unsurprisingly, there is a lot of speculation going around. One thread is on whether the co-CEO concept will be continued and if so, will Vishal Sikka take Jim’s booth – technology is not Bill McDermott’s strong hand and SAP could benefit from continuing with this “promise-deliver” duality. When Vishal Sikka was appointed head of software development and innovation earlier this year, this was rumored to be step one of Jim’s exit – he was left without an unchallenged role in SAP’s Global Managing Board.
What to think of these changes. The initial “primitive reaction” of the share prices indicate that this was not catastrophic but disappointing. Was there friction between the duo after all or is Snabe truly leaving for personal reasons? Did SAP’s last week’s correction on the year’s forecast have anything to do with anything? Are all these changes just clicks in the mastermind’s (Hasso Plattner’s) master plan to keep SAP ahead of the game? Will SAP be even further americanized with Bill alone at the helm in Pennsylvania and Vishal holding fort on the west coast in Palo Alto?
There are also speculations about the longevity of Bill McDermott’s tenure – his contract is reported to expire in 2017, but rumor says he has non-SAP plans for as early as 2015. Werner Brand’ts executive board contract expires in 2013, that of Gerd Oswald in 2014. Looking back at the pace at which SAP has changed its front-men, I trust also these recent changes will eventually just sink in and business will continue almost as usual. Besides, for those who relied on Jim’s technology contribution, he will be no further than the supervisory board…