Reaction Immediately Starts Coming In

By Chris Preimesberger  |  Posted 2010-09-30 Print this article Print


Apotheker, fluent in five languages (English, French, German, Dutch and Hebrew), currently is a board member of AXA and Schneider Electric SA. He is a graduate in international relations and economics from the Hebrew University in Jerusalem.

Interestingly, Apotheker's appointment to lead SAP in 2008 was the first time that a large German company was run by a Jewish executive whose parents escaped the Holocaust.

When the Nazis invaded Poland, Apotheker's parents fled to the Russo-Chinese border. After the war, they settled in Aachen, near Belgium. Apotheker was born there in 1953 and later moved to Antwerp.

"If SAP had a pre-war history, I would never have joined the company," he told The Economist in an interview.

Naturally, HP published its board members' official takes on the selection of Apotheker.

"Leo is a strategic thinker with a passion for technology, wide-reaching global experience and proven operational discipline-exactly what we were looking for in a CEO," said Robert Ryan, lead independent director of the board. "After more than two decades in the industry, he has a strong track record of driving technological innovation, building customer relationships and developing world-class teams.

"Leo has been a leader in anticipating the transformation taking place in our industry, and we believe he is uniquely positioned to help accelerate HP's strategy. He has demonstrated success in the U.S. market and also has vast international experience-which will be a major asset as HP continues to expand globally, particularly in high-growth emerging markets. HP has the right assets and market positions, and now we have the best team to realize the company's enormous potential," Ryan said in a prepared statement.

Lane said he has "known and admired Leo for almost 20 years. He is ideally suited to build on HP's strong foundation, leverage its many assets and keep the company at the forefront of innovation."

Analysts have their say

Analysts, of course, had their immediate reactions.

Ezra Gottheil, IT hardware analyst with Technology Business Research, told eWEEK that Apotheker's major attribute is that "he's an ex-software CEO. HP's kind of got its ducks in a row now with hardware: They're driving market share in PCs and servers, they've put acquisitions in place for networking and storage, and in mobile devices with Palm.

"They've got a services business that they've successfully integrated, so what's the final frontier? Software has been a kind of stepchild at HP for a very long time. How do you protect software margins, which they haven't succeeded at doing, ever? You put a software CEO at the top of the organization."

Stuart Williams, a software industry analyst with TBR, wrote in a flash report that
the appointment of Apotheker "fills a gap in HP's expertise. HP is now a three-way player: HP is confident that hardware and services are on positive trajectories, and is once again filling out its portfolio by strengthening the third leg of the IT stool: hardware, software and services."

The experience Apotheker brings in running and selling an enterprise software company is directly beneficial to HP, Williams wrote.

"Given the strong margin contribution of enterprise software, TBR believes Mr. Apotheker will reinvigorate the software portfolio under the HP Software and the Enterprise Server, Storage and Networking (ESS&N) divisions as a highly profitable lever that can help to quickly lift overall HP profitability. The appointment reinforces the perceived importance of outside experience in running the software business following the hiring of ex-Microsoft executive Bill Veghte as the head of the HP Software and Services division," Williams wrote.

Veghte is a 19-year Microsoft veteran who recently ran the Windows franchise.

New man an unknown quality for many U.S. IT people

Apotheker, who has been described as flamboyant by some European IT people, is a relatively unknown personality for many U.S. industry people.

"In short, we don't know much about him-but he ran a really big software company," Steve Duplessie, principal at Enterprise Strategy Group, told eWEEK. "That's what I find most interesting-he didn't run any traditional product businesses, HP's bread and butter, but did run a major enterprise software company.

"With Hurd going to Oracle, maybe the HP board is ready to take on the software giant next? It's pure speculation, of course, but if you wanted to find a new area of business where you don't really play that generates many billions annually, why not that space?  Maybe HP buys SAP next ..."

Editor's note: This story has been updated to add more detail on Apotheker's background and comments from analysts. It has also been updated to correct the amount of revenue generated by HP's Enterprise Business unit and the Personal Systems Group. eWEEK West Coast Managing Editor John Pallatto also contributed to this story.

Chris Preimesberger Chris Preimesberger was named Editor-in-Chief of Features & Analysis at eWEEK in November 2011. Previously he served eWEEK as Senior Writer, covering a range of IT sectors that include data center systems, cloud computing, storage, virtualization, green IT, e-discovery and IT governance. His blog, Storage Station, is considered a go-to information source. Chris won a national Folio Award for magazine writing in November 2011 for a cover story on and CEO-founder Marc Benioff, and he has served as a judge for the SIIA Codie Awards since 2005. In previous IT journalism, Chris was a founding editor of both IT Manager's Journal and and was managing editor of Software Development magazine. His diverse resume also includes: sportswriter for the Los Angeles Daily News, covering NCAA and NBA basketball, television critic for the Palo Alto Times Tribune, and Sports Information Director at Stanford University. He has served as a correspondent for The Associated Press, covering Stanford and NCAA tournament basketball, since 1983. He has covered a number of major events, including the 1984 Democratic National Convention, a Presidential press conference at the White House in 1993, the Emmy Awards (three times), two Rose Bowls, the Fiesta Bowl, several NCAA men's and women's basketball tournaments, a Formula One Grand Prix auto race, a heavyweight boxing championship bout (Ali vs. Spinks, 1978), and the 1985 Super Bowl. A 1975 graduate of Pepperdine University in Malibu, Calif., Chris has won more than a dozen regional and national awards for his work. He and his wife, Rebecca, have four children and reside in Redwood City, Calif.Follow on Twitter: editingwhiz

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