Hasso Plattner, the billionaire co-founder of German software giant SAP, wants to make the company more attractive to startups. And he’s ready to jump out of the box over it — way out.
During a panel discussion in Germany this week at the SAP Innovation Center, he admitted that the company took too long to start working with startups. It was “jealousy,” he said, and a “not-invented-here” mentality. “We always worked with other companies, but when they did not do exactly what we wanted them to do, then we developed all kinds of animosities.”
But in the past two years or so, particularly to increase the popularity of a database it invented called HANA, SAP is now doing all the typical things to make startups love it: like funding them through SAP Ventures, hosting forums where they can pitch their wares to company execs and running hacking contests for the HANA tech.
HANA is a part of a new wave of databases, known as the in-memory database. That means it runs entirely in a computer’s memory, (like RAM) instead of on storage disks. That allows it to crunch through enormous amounts of data almost instantly.
But Plattner thinks SAP needs to do more to change its reputation as a stodgy, difficult, enterprise software company. He’s been pushing SAP executives to think creatively, admitting, “We are not out-of-the-box jumpers.”
He came up with a surprising new idea inspired by Apple’s stores, he said.
In three months, SAP will be opening a 24-hour cafe that serves food, coffee, alcohol, even standup comedy, a SAP spokesperson confirmed with Business Insider. The idea is to create a space where startups can hang out.
Here’s what Plattner said:
“You know University Drive … the main drag … in Palo Alto [Calif.]? We have acquired a nice location there and we will open the HANA Cafe by [our tech conference] Sapphire, so in three months.
“… We created it for these [startup] companies. They can come in. They can connect there. We’ll have all the electronic connections to 1,250 companies in the world. They want to have contact to Beijing, they can. … Startup companies can collaborate there. … This is what we want to support.
“It is cool,” he laughed, clearly excited by the idea.
Three of these eateries are already planned, with more to come if they are a hit. After Palo Alto, SAP will open Berlin and Shanghai and all will be connected to each other 24 hours.
Here’s the video where SAP executives talking about working with startups. Skip to 43:36 for the discussion of the HANA Cafe.
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