SAP Leo Apotheker resigned unexpectedly on Sunday with immediate effect.
Apotheker has been with the company for more than 20 years and took over as CEO in May 2009 after a period serving as co-CEO with Henning Kagermann. His departure “by mutual agreement” and a return to a co-CEO set up between field chief Bill McDermott and head of product development Jim Hagemann Snabe will help SAP to “better align product innovation with customer needs”, the company said.
Analysts, however, pointed to the company's first drop in annual revenues since 2003 following a period of customer and staff discontent.
The company’s announcement said the supervisory board decided against extending Apotheker’s contract, which would have expired at the end of the year.
Thomas Otter, an analyst at market researcher Gartner and former SAP employee, told the Bloomberg news agency that the vendor needed to develop a “more compelling technological vision” and that a recent internal staff survey showed that Apotheker had failed to motivate them.
“The recent employee survey highlighted that under Leo, employee morale dropped significantly. This was a major influence on the board’s decision to change, probably more than the 2009 financial performance,” Otter said.