SAP co-chief executive officer Jennifer Morgan, appointed in October to the top executive post alongside Christian Klein, will leave the business software company at the end of April.
Christian Klein, 39, will remain in the CEO role, SAP said late Monday in a statement. He joined the company as a student in 1999 and had been chief operating officer since April 2016 before his October promotion, with Jennifer Morgan, to replace Bill McDermott in the top job.
Jennifer Morgan joined SAP in 2004 and was appointed co-chief executive officer, together with Klein, in October 2019. Previously, she served as president of the Cloud Business Group, overseeing Qualtrics, SAP SuccessFactors, SAP Ariba, SAP Fieldglass, SAP Customer Experience and SAP Concur.
The company said it is shifting to a lone CEO model to provide a clearer leadership structure in the face of business challenges posed by the Covid-19 pandemic.
“Jen and I really started with a joint agenda,” said Klein in a call with reporters. “The reason we decided to come back to a sole CEO model was because of the outbreak of the pandemic. There was no exact date to when SAP would have come back to a sole CEO model but in these turbulent times we thought now was the right time.”
SAP had been committed to the co-CEO structure, but when the coronavirus hit, it became clear that having two people in charge was no longer tenable. Jennifer Morgan is the first female chief executive of a DAX-listed company.
The leadership structure was disorganized and, at times, chaotic. It took longer to get some things done because, in certain instances, managers needed sign off from two different CEO offices, Bloomberg reported.
Over time, two distinct power centers emerged. One was based in the U.S. under Morgan, who is American. The other, under Klein, was anchored in Germany, the site of the company’s headquarters, its greatest sphere of influence and Klein’s homeland. Klein also benefited from his close ties to Chairman and co-founder Hasso Plattner.
Jennifer Morgan, 48, joined SAP in 2004 and had been president of the software giant’s cloud business group before being named co-CEO. She became the first American woman appointed to SAP’s executive board in 2017 when she was named president of the Americas and Asia.
“The market has never really appreciated the co-CEO structure, though we believe SAP will lose a dedicated cloud sales person with Jennifer,” Florian Treisch, analyst at Commerzbank AG wrote in a note Tuesday.