SAP co-founder and chairman of the supervisory board Plattner is leaving

As of: May 15, 2024 6:27 p.m

Hasso Plattner has managed the software group SAP for more than 50 years – most recently as chairman of the supervisory board. As such, he will make his last appearance at the annual general meeting on Wednesday.

Hasso Plattner opened the SAP general meeting for the last time on Wednesday – his last major appearance as chairman of the supervisory board after half a century at the company. According to Hasso Plattner, SAP is the most valuable company on the stock exchange and the only German IT group with a global reputation, which makes him proud. The 80-year-old received a standing ovation from the shareholders as he left – unusual at a general meeting.

The Finn Pekka Ala-Pietilä was elected as the new chairman of the supervisory board. He is an old acquaintance. The former president of Nokia sat on the supervisory board of SAP from 2002 to 2021. During his introduction, Ala-Pietilä said that working on the control committee was teamwork. No one can keep the world running alone. For the software company, Plattner’s departure marked the end of an era.

This era began more than 50 years ago, namely in April 1972. Microsoft and Apple did not yet exist when five employees left the technology group IBM to found SAP together. Not in the garage, but in a four-room apartment in Mannheim. Including Dietmar Hopp and Hasso Plattner.

The small software company is growing so quickly that a larger company headquarters will soon be necessary. Dietmar Hopp shows his companions a few asparagus fields in Walldorf and suggests setting up SAP there.

Others come and go – Plattner stays

Hasso Plattner will be the only constant in a constantly changing company for over five decades. As head of the supervisory board, he changes board members like others change the towel. He, on the other hand: Immovable. The gray eminence in the background.

His leadership style: Distinctive. “Energetic, assertive, brilliant, completely honest, direct,” is how works council member Andreas Hahn describes the SAP co-founder, with whom he sat on the supervisory board for some time. Sometimes Plattner can be a bit too direct, Hahn adds. Plattner also applies As an opponent of works councils, SAP was the only DAX company without a works council until 2006.

Hasso Plattner (center) has shaped SAP for decades.

A few months ago, Hasso Plattner turned 80 – he had announced his resignation from the supervisory board several times in recent years and then repeatedly postponed it. Some say: Because he couldn’t let go. The others: Because SAP still needed him.

Hasso Plattner is the last founder in the company who is still active, says Jens Hungershausen from the German-speaking SAP User Group (DSAG) association; he speaks for the group’s customers.

From our perspective, he always stood for vision, for visionary things. Together with his fellow founders, he made SAP what it is today.
Jens Hungershausen, DSAG

Plattner has always been technologically oriented; technology is what users associate with Hasso Plattner, says Hungershausen. His departure is therefore a real turning point for SAP, believes shareholder advocate Jella Benner-Heinacher, who has been observing SAP for many years.

For us, Hasso Plattner is also Mr. SAP
Jella Benner-Heinacher, German Association for the Protection of Securities Ownership

Hasso Plattner not only founded the company and accompanied it over all the decades, but also led it, says Benner-Heinacher. From 1972 to today, Plattner has developed the company further and today SAP is a giant whose shareholders are happy about its great development, praises the investor advocate.

Billionaire thanks to SAP shares

From a shareholder perspective, the share price in particular has developed particularly well; SAP is the most valuable company in the German leading index DAX. This in turn makes the largest shareholder Hasso Plattner one of the richest Germans. Forbes magazine estimates his fortune at $11 billion; he himself says it’s $20 billion.

A self-made billionaire who always feels committed to the common good. Plattner is involved as a patron and has founded a museum and an IT institute in Potsdam. That’s why he is also known as the “German Bill Gates”. Plattner says he thinks a lot about giving something back when you’ve been successful in life. You couldn’t take it with you anyway.

The software club in the asparagus fields has become a global corporation – the only German IT company that can compete with the American competition. But it is also constantly being restructured and has to constantly realign itself. The topic of artificial intelligence will once again turn the company on its head. From now on without the switchman Hasso Plattner. But in his mind.

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