By Todd Horwitz 

SAP CEO Steps Down

Bill McDermott stood down on Friday after a decade building up SAP as the world’s leading enterprise software company, handing the task of completing its transition to cloud computing to new co-CEOs Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein. SAP announced the management overhaul, with immediate effect, after rushing out third-quarter results that showed it gaining traction in its drive to offer a more streamlined range of services and boost profitability.

The announcement brings down the curtain on an era in which McDermott struck a string of multi-billion-dollar deals that established SAP as Europe’s pre-eminent technology group but also created complexity that frustrated many clients. “SAP would not be what it is today without Bill McDermott,” said Hasso Plattner, a co-founder of SAP who chairs the company’s supervisory board.

“Bill made invaluable contributions to this company and he was a main driver of SAP’s transition to the cloud, which will fuel our growth for many years to come.” Plattner founded SAP in the early 1970s with three former IBM colleagues. He exerted quiet influence from behind the scenes, giving room for extrovert McDermott to play the role of showman and salesman.

The new leadership combines Morgan’s focus on customer relationships in SAP’s North American markets with Klein’s background in process innovation that is rooted in SAP’s German heritage.

McDermott’s biggest bet in recent years came with the acquisition of Qualtrics for $8 billion. At our event last month, McDermott compared this acquisition to Apple’s acquisition of Next and Facebook’s acquisition of Instagram. “Qualtrics is to SAP what those M&A moves were to those wonderful companies,” he said. Under his leadership, SAP also acquired corporate expense and travel management company Concur for $8.3 billion and SuccessFactors for $3.4 billion.

Todd “Bubba” Horwitz