SAP's new CEOs on the menace from Oracle: 'We’re profitable market share'

SAP isn’t running scared from Oracle.

“We are winning market share,” SAP co-CEO Christian Klein said in a fireside chat with CNBC’s Karen Tso at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland. Klein added that SAP has attracted customers at the five-day meeting of the world’s elite, which are asking it to “lead us into the next chapter.”

The German tech giant was the subject of criticism from some customers over a decision to end support for software running on third-party databases like Oracle. Late last year, Oracle’s technology chief Larry Ellison fired criticism of his own at the firm, claiming SAP’s customer base was “up for grabs.”

In Oracle’s second-quarter earnings call, Ellison said one of SAP’s biggest customers would go live on Oracle’s enterprise resource planning platform (ERP) in 2020. ERP is a piece of software used by firms to manage their business and automate back office functions.

Bill McDermott, former CEO of German software and cloud computing giant SAP, and board members pose during the company’s annual general meeting on May 15, 2019 in Mannheim, southwestern Germany.

Uwe Anspach | DPA | AFP via Getty Images

But SAP’s new co-CEOs — who took the reins following the departure of former chief Bill McDermott — appeared unfazed by Ellison’s remarks.

“We’ve been really just focused on the customer base,” fellow co-CEO Jennifer Morgan said. “One of the things that’s always differentiated SAP is we have such an open ecosystem.”

“We make sure we co-engineer (and) co-innovate so our customers are able to leverage SAP,” she said, adding the firm lets customers move workloads to a range of public cloud platforms including Microsoft Azure, Amazon Web Services and Google Cloud. “We work with all of them.”

Larry Ellison, co-founder and chairman of Oracle Corp., speaks during the Oracle OpenWorld 2017 conference in San Francisco on October 3, 2017.

David Paul Morris | Bloomberg | Getty Images

Klein disputed claims that customers were moving away from SAP, stating: “We double checked and honestly I couldn’t find any customer who moved away from SAP ERP.”

He even hinted the company would be dropping a few “concrete names” among its client roster in its latest earnings report, which is due on Jan. 28. “Technology-wise, when you look at SAP, we are now moving into the next phase,” Klein added.

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