by Christopher Koch

CIO 20/20 Honorees–Innovator’s Profile: Hasso Plattner of SAP AG

Oct 01, 20022 mins

Cochairman and Co-CEO


Larry Ellison, the alpha-engineer chairman of Oracle, drives Hasso Plattner, another alpha-engineer and co-CEO of arch rival SAP, crazy. So crazy, in fact, that Plattner has reportedly dropped his drawers and mooned Ellison not once but twice when the two have competed against each other in yachting races.

Though SAP has more than double Oracle’s market share for ERP software, Ellison is a master marketer and that burns Plattner, whose company has been repeatedly criticized for lacking pizzazz. Plattner?who in 1972 invented ERP software and then sold it to the world so that today, almost without exception, it drives the globe’s largest enterprises?takes everything personally. Company founders do that, says Marty Homlish, chief marketing officer for SAP. “The sense of responsibility [he] feels for the company is very strong.”

Plattner also has prodigious amounts of energy and drive. “Hasso is pure, unbridled enthusiasm. Sort of kidlike enthusiasm,” says Bruce Richardson, senior vice president of research at AMR Research in Boston. “You don’t see that in a lot of billionaires.”These days Walldorf, Germany-based SAP has taken to following others into markets such as supply chain automation and CRM rather than blasting new ones wide open, as it did with ERP. Plattner, however, is unapologetic about his company’s deliberate pace. “It’s better to be a little late than too early if you have the stamina and the resources,” he says. SAP clearly has plenty of both, but the question remains whether the 58-year-old Plattner has another ERP in him.