SAP veteran Leo Apotheker is HP’s new CEO. Perhaps more interesting, is that Ray Lane, a venture capitalist and a former president of Oracle was named to HP’sboard. Oracle, famously, hired Mark Hurd after HP forced his exit, sparking litigation and considerable bad feelings.
Apotheker was at SAP for more than 20 years, leaving “unexpectedly” last February just a year after being tapped as CEO. The SAP board did not renew his contract. SAP faced wide-spread dissatisfaction with its SaaS execution and an inability to prevent customers from defecting to Oracle. (Take note HP!)
While at SAP, Apotheker dealt with an interesting management triumvirate, founder Hasso Plattner at the top; young turk Shai Agassi spearheading new opportunities; and president Henning Kagermann. Kagermann and Apotheker served as co-CEOs for awhile before Kagermann stepped down.
Clearly, Apotheker is used to internal corporate politics.
This news will probably dishearten some HP VARs who A: hated that Hurd was forced out and B: wanted an insider to take the reins to minimize disruption. Todd Bradley was a favorite among many of these VARs.
Speaking earlier this week, one long-time HP VAR said chatter around the new CEO was rampant nearly two months after Hurd’s departure. “We all talk about the Hurd succession..I think HP has the strategy in place today, they just need someone to execute it and i think Todd Bradley is the best candidate, he gets the mobility play,”
Bradley joined HP from Palm before HP actually acquired Palm.
Another possible inside candidate mentioned by VARs was Dave Donatelli. “He gets storage and is so aggressive. Both he and Bradley aslo get the channel. Our fear is if someone comes from outside and doesn’t share that [HP’s current vision]…we don’t want someone to rock the boat.”
Long-timer HP exec Ann Livermore was also on many people’s short list of possible CEOs.
Still, someone would be upset regardless of who got the CEO nod, this partner said. ” No matter who they bring in, there’ll be some backlash.”
This blog was updated Friday morning with more background on Apotheker.