SAP taps top software executives

Some top U.S. talent in the area of business software development is shifting to SAP AG as the German software company moves to lure senior executives away from key rivals.

Over the past weeks, SAP has hired several executives from competitors, such as BEA Systems Inc., Oracle Corp., PeopleSoft Inc. and Siebel Systems Inc., according to SAP spokesman Bill Wohl.

“These are very senior executives who owned development responsibilities for key products in their respective companies; they managed the look, feel and functionality of these products,” Wohl said. “This is a very significant shift in talent, one of the biggest ever in Silicon Valley.”

The Walldorf, Germany, software vendor plans to announce the names and responsibilities of its new hires on Monday, according to Wohl.

The newly recruited software experts will be based in Palo Alto, Calif., where SAP operates one of several global research and development centres. The experts will report to SAP board member Shai Agassi, who is responsible for the company’s product and development group. Agassi is also based in Palo Alto.

Although declining to provide the names and functions of the new hires, Wohl said one of them is a “senior development executive at Oracle responsible for user interfaces.”

Asked why SAP is hiring so many top product development experts now, Wohl said: “In the software business, which is all about intellectual property, people-talent is a key differentiator.”

Within the past 18 months, SAP has hired more than 200 senior executives from competitors, according to the spokesman. This year, the company plans to add around 3,000 employees to its 32,000-plus work force.

Earlier this week, Oracle launched a program, called “OFF SAP,” which is aimed at encouraging SAP customers to switch to Oracle software. The program follows SAP’s Safe Passage scheme, designed to lure Oracle customers to change software camps.

Wohl called the Oracle announcement a “very flat offer,” adding that it contained “inaccurate statements.”

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