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Management Shake-Up Rattles SAP's Cloud Business

Eight months after taking over for Lars Dalgaard, Robert Calderoni is out.

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There has been another management shake-up among the upper ranks of the German software giant SAP. The company has confirmed the resignation of Robert Calderoni, who had been heading up its cloud software business.

The move is significant because Calderoni had taken over the position only eight months ago, following the departure of Lars Dalgaard, the former CEO of cloud human resources software company SuccessFactors, which SAP acquired in 2011. Dalgaard went on to become a partner at the venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Calderoni had headed up another big SAP cloud acquisition, Ariba, which does supply-chain management software in the cloud. SAP paid $4.3 billion for it in 2012.

Taking over for Calderoni is Shawn Price, the current president of the SuccessFactors unit within SAP and a former president at Zuora, a cloud-based provider of finance and billing software.

The move can’t help but be seen against the backdrop of a decision by SAP to scale back investment in Business ByDesign, an older cloud platform, in favor of HANA, a newer one.

James Dever, a spokesman for SAP, confirmed the move and said Calderoni will remain as a “strategic adviser to the Managing Board.” He said it’s part of a new “cloud first” mentality at SAP, and said both on-premise and cloud software will be handled by the same sales teams. He also said more organizational changes are coming.

Justin Furby, an analyst at William Blair, speculated in a research note to clients today that the change will probably result in some more departures among the ranks of SuccessFactors employees. Rivals including Workday, Cornerstone OnDemand and may start cherry-picking new hires, he said.

“It is hard to imagine that the latest departures at SAP will not create some disruption, at least in the near term, to the company’s cloud efforts,” Furby wrote. “Customers are likely to press the company on its leadership structure and vision, and some employees are likely to defect.”

Management changes have been the order of the day at SAP for the last year. Over the summer, Jim Hagemann-Snabe resigned his post as co-CEO, leaving Bill McDermott as the sole CEO. Both were tapped in 2010 to take over after the departure of Léo Apotheker, who was fired after missing revenue targets, then later went on to run Hewlett-Packard.

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