SAP lose another key executive

SAP has confirmed that Aliza Peleg, managing director of SAP Labs US, will leave the business applications company by the end of next month. Her departure follows that of Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group, who resigned from SAP on 1 April.

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SAP has confirmed that Aliza Peleg, managing director of SAP Labs US, will leave the business applications company by the end of next month. Her departure follows that of Shai Agassi, president of SAP's product and technology group, who resigned from SAP on 1 April.

SAP is actively searching for a replacement for Peleg, according to a company spokesman. Doug Merritt, head of the vendor's business user software development efforts, is currently adding responsibility for SAP Labs to his other roles at the company.

Peleg joined SAP in March 2001, after the vendor acquired TopTier Software where she had held the position of general manager for TopTier Israel for five years. She is leaving to pursue unspecified career opportunities outside of SAP.

Shai Agassi started at TopTier and the acquisition of the company was also how he became part of SAP.

Agassi resigned his position at SAP 1 April to pursue opportunities in alternative energy sources and environmental policy after the vendor opted to keep Henning Kagermann on as chief executive until 2009 instead of leaving the job this year. Agassi had been widely expected to become co-chief executive of SAP on Kagermann's departure.

"Then it became apparent to Shai that he wasn't comfortable with committing a long-term 10-to 15-year period to SAP," Chairman Hasso Plattner said during a discussion of Agassi's resignation and a reorganisation of the company's executive management.

An article in The Wall Street Journal earlier this month noted internal tensions at the company as to the merits of SAP's shift over the last five years to move away from its roots as a German company in favour of becoming much more international. Some within SAP feared a too rapid "Americanisation" of the company.

Some industry observers have wondered whether Agassi's departure signalled a retrenching of SAP's focus back to its Germany headquarters as the centre for decision making and development efforts.

That would appear not to be the case, according to comments from the company on Peleg's upcoming departure.

"It is important to note that Silicon Valley remains very strategic to SAP globally and locally," a SAP spokesman said. "We will continue to grow our presence in the Valley, where we have operated for more than 10 years." SAP employs over 1,600 staff in the area, with their responsibilities encompassing the vendor's range of operations, from development to sales and marketing, he added.

SAP Executive Board Member Claus Heinrich paid tribute to Peleg's role in helping create a strong SAP presence in Silicon Valley. "In addition to her role in the US, Aliza helped to realise SAP's globalisation in development through her extraordinary dedication in driving our Global SAP Labs Network," he wrote.

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