by Thomas Wailgum

My 7 Minutes with SAP’s Hasso Plattner

May 20, 2010
Enterprise Applications

My first (and brief) time with SAP's main man at Sapphire 2010 did not disappoint. He's a rock star, after all.

In an industry that can count only a handful of true rock-star CEOs, SAP’s high-tech heavyweight Hasso Plattner is mentioned in the same breadth as Ellison, Jobs and Gates. (That he’s not afraid to jump up on stage with an electric guitar doesn’t hurt either.)

His raucous stories are legendary, his high-tech smarts well-documented, and his candid spirit is refreshing (except, of course, to SAP’s PR folks). His wars-of-words with Larry Ellison (on land and at sea) have injected excitement and interest in the staid world of business applications.

SAP Chairman Hasso Plattner

I shared a few minutes with the chairman of SAP’s Supervisory Board at a reception at the Sapphire 2010 show in Orlando, and he did not disappoint.

I had never had the opportunity to meet him before. The topics ranged from his recent interview of himself and a protracted haircut, to SAP’s recent Sybase acquisition and its in-memory database initiative, of which he is very fond.

He frankly owned up to a past mistake SAP made. I liked that. He gave me the elevator pitch on Sybase and in-memory technology, complete with a very short history lesson: decades of work combined with his immense passion all condensed into a couple of minutes.

Standing in his orbit for a bit, I tried not to be starstruck, since I had only heard the lore. I probably didn’t succeed, especially when he mentioned that he had read an article of mine. Hasso then gave me the impression that it was an article not favorable of SAP and that he disagreed with it.

That’s fine. Attempting to go toe-to-toe with him on any technology topic was not on my Bucket List.

And just when I was about to ask another question that was lined up in my mental queue—SAP’s new mobile efforts? his sailing in the Caribbean? grooming CTO Vishal Sikka?—his handlers shuttled him off to another person just like me, just looking to get a little face time with him.

He politely added I could e-mail him, if I had any questions in the future. Yup, I already do.

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