SAP announced some surprising news Sunday afternoon: the man who invented the company’s game-changing HANA database is out.
Effective immediately, Vishal Sikka has left the company.
Sikka, who joined the company in 2002, was part of SAP founder Hasso Plattner’s brain-trust. In recent years, he one of the company’s biggest stars after he led the team that created HANA.
He helped push HANA into becoming SAP’s most exciting new product, signing on more than 3,200 SAP HANA customers, the company says.
SAP was funding startups building apps on top of HANA with more than 1,200 startups from 57 countries building apps on HANA. So far, there over 60 apps available, SAP says.
The company even announced plans to open a bunch of cafes worldwide named HANA, where startups could hang out, drink coffee, and interact with each other through 24/7 videoconferencing. The first one is scheduled to open in Palo Alto.
The move comes days before American, Bill McDermott, takes over as sole CEO as the company on May 21 after co-CEO with Jim Hagemann Snabe leaves the company. McDermott and Hagemann have shared the CEO role for four years.
Since 2011, the launch of HANA, Sikka had increasingly become the face of SAP. For instance, in February, when SAP opened a stunning new “innovation center” in Germany, SAP’s home country, it was Sikka who spoke alongside Plattner at the event, sharing a vision for the future of tech, SAP and HANA’s starring role in both.
But SAP has more pressing problems than developing HANA.
The enterprise software business is undergoing a major transformation now, where companies are no longer buying and installing software. They are renting it as a service over the cloud.
SAP has spent billions to acquire a cloud business, including buying SuccessFactors for $US3.4 billion in 2011 and Ariba for $US4.3 billion in 2012.
Now it needs to convert its bread-and-butter financial apps into cloud versions and woo customers to switch instead of moving to cloud competitors like Salesforce.com, WorkDay, or startups like Zuora and Anaplan.
All the big enterprise software companies, including Oracle and Microsoft, are in the same transition.
SAP had originally elevated SuccessFactors founder Lars Dalgaard and Ariba CEO Bob Calderoni to its managing board. But Dalgaard left SAP in 2013 and Calderoni left in January.
With the exit of Sikka, McDermot has reshuffled executives, promoting three long-time SAP execs into top leadership: Robert Enslin, Bernd Leukert and Helen Arnold.
Arnold is taking over as CIO for the company and lead the HANA database. She will become the one-and-only woman on SAP’s Global Managing Board.
Last month, SAP reported a first-quarter that narrowly missed analysts’ estimates with sales of cloud on the rise 32% o 221 million euros but sales of new software licenses, down 5.2 per cent to 623 million euros.
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