SAP AG will continue with a single chief executive after co-CEO John Hagemann Snabe steps down in May 2014.
Snabe and Bill McDermott have served as co-CEO’s of the ERP company for almost four years, after the ouster of Leo Apotheker.
But Snabe insisted it wasn’t internal friction that caused him to step down. Snabe, McDermott and SAP founder Hasso Plattner all defended the co-CEO model. Plattner said the model will only work in certain circumstances, and with certain people.
“You can’t put two people together and say, ‘You are co-CEOs now’ … You really have to make sure that they work together,” Plattner told analysts on a conference call.
McDermott called Snabe a good friend and said he would seek guidance from him in the future.
Snabe will join SAP’s supervisory board, which is chaired by Plattner.
Waterloo, Ont.-based smart phone maker Research in Motion (now BlackBerry) used a co-CEO model from its founding in 1984 until Mike Lazaridis and Jim Ballsillie stepped down in January 2012, after years of shareholder complaints that the company was not responding to competition in the smart phone market. They were replaced by CEO Thorsten Heins.

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