SAP CEO Bill McDermott, who led Europe’s largest software company during a decade of rapid changes in the industry, is stepping down and will be replaced by Jennifer Morgan and Christian Klein as co-CEOs.
Morgan, 48, who joined SAP in 2004, most recently served as president of the software giant’s cloud business group, the company said on Thursday in a statement. She became the first American woman appointed to SAP’s executive board in 2017 when she was named president of the Americas and Asia.
Klein, who joined SAP as a student in 1999, has been chief operating officer since April 2016 and has served on the executive board since 2018.
McDermott, 58, joined Walldorf, Germany-based SAP in 2002 and has been CEO for about a decade. He was the first American to hold that rank at the maker of business applications and databases. McDermott embraced cloud computing, changing the way SAP sold software so customers could use it over the Internet. He has been transitioning the company through acquisitions and revamped products, challenging rivals Salesforce.com and Oracle. While SAP had pledged to triple cloud revenue by 2023, the effort has shown mixed results and the company has pushed to shore up profit margins with the support of activist investor Elliott Management.
“The decision was made based on my determination that 10 years is a long time to be CEO,” McDermott said on a conference call after the announcement. “You get to the point when you have done what you set out to do and then some.”
Earlier, SAP reported preliminary third quarter revenue and profit that topped analysts’ estimates. Cloud bookings, a key metric in the company’s transition, increased 33% on a constant currency basis, more than double the pace of the second quarter, the company said.
The company’s American depositary receipts gained about 6% in extended trading after closing at US$115.25. The US-listed stock has gained 16% this year.
McDermott cited the strong results as a reason for the timing of the leadership change, saying he wanted to give his successors the reins while the company is at “maximum strength”.
Morgan will continue to be based in the US and Klein in Germany, McDermott said, pointing to SAP’s long history of co-CEOs.
Morgan said she was only three hours into her tenure so didn’t know what changes she might push for, but expressed optimism in the leadership structure.
“I’m a very big believer that when two people come together, you can really get a lot done,” she said on the call.
McDermott, who will remain as an adviser through the end of the year, said he was uncertain about his future plans.
“I will do something at some point. But today’s SAP’s day. There is no doubt in my mind the future of SAP is even brighter now,” he said. — Reported by Nico Grant, (c) 2019 Bloomberg LP