I had heard this news over the back channel yesterday . Having known Vishal for a few years , and having worked for him for a bit – It was a surprise, but not exactly a shock . This photo above was a picture I took the last meeting I had with Vishal and Hasso before I left SAP .
As a friend, I think this is a good thing for him to do. It was a big job with a lot of stress . He could use a breather before his next adventure . For a man of his caliber , there is no dearth of opportunity in this world .
For SAP, there is both a real issue and a perception issue to overcome . Bernd Leukert is a known and respected entity in SAP leadership – and I think will do as good a job as any one else to keep the ship steady . What Hana needs is a set of apps – and Bernd’s pedigree is all on apps side . He has Bjoern Goerke and other leaders to take care of technology. I am a tad surprised Bjoern didn’t get into Managing Board – but I am sure it’s just a matter of time . So I think SAP board did the right thing in picking Bernd to be Vishal’s successor . I do expect to see some “thought leadership” cues from Bernd (and probably Bjoern too) at Sapphirenow Orlando on how he sees SAP evolve .
It’s not enough to build apps – it needs to fit into the “we are a profitable cloud company” message, which probably needs a renewed focus on mobile business too .
Rob Enslin goes to executive board with Bernd – and I think that was a no brainer too . Rob is as good as the best sales leaders anywhere in enterprise software today. When Bill becomes sole CEO in few weeks , I expect Rob to be a solid general for him . Congrats to Bernd and Rob – very well deserved . I just wish SAP managed to keep Sanjay Poonen too . But Steve Lucas is still there – so there is no real shortage of top talent .
And I think this reshuffle helps Bill McDermott get a great start on his tenure as sole CEO with almost a completely new board to assist him. With Hasso and Jim in supervisory board, he should have plenty of support to chart a great course for SAP. Wish you the best, Bill !
What about Hana , Vishal’s little girl ? As much as Vishal was the face of Hana – there are plenty of people who are experts on Hana in SAP at all levels . The real question is whether SAP continues to keep a technology focus on Hana , or let apps take front seat again and Hana just powering everything in background . Success of a platform is based on apps built on it – so I am hoping SAP strikes a good balance on apps VS technology when it comes to hana . SAP is not breaking down Hana numbers for its quarterly reporting anymore – so I am guessing such an equilibrium will happen soon .
I hope SAP keeps the Hana startup program alive and well – and in addition focuses on building a deeper relationship with other type of partners (HW, SI, SW, Cloud). Ecosystem is SAP’s biggest advantage – and it is important that the company takes the partners in confidence as they transition product and engineering leadership .
I do feel bad for my many friends in SAP who work in P&I – it’s always painful to go through a leadership transition and it’s after effects . I can only hope that you emerge stronger on the other side . I can’t even begin to imagine what I would have had to go through emotionally if I hadn’t left SAP .
I can only speculate what Vishal is going to do next . With his eye for spotting technology trends and passion to see world change for the better – my best bet is that he will become a VC or an Angel investor . But then he could surprise me by choosing to be an entrepreneur again , or join a big company (unlikely but not discounting it ). But whatever option he chooses – I just want to wish him the very best and hope he takes some significant time off to recharge . Good luck V !