Hasso Plattner, co-chairman and chief executive officer of SAP AG, admitted Thursday that he's scared of the software industry's two powerhouses, IBM Corp. and Microsoft Corp.
"Ten years ago, when asked which companies I saw as the competition, I said I was scared of Microsoft and IBM," Plattner told journalists and analysts attending a conference at the SAP customer conference and trade show Sapphire in Lisbon.
Both companies, Plattner said, have the financial and human resources to be a major threat to SAP, "which is a small company compared to them," he said.
Plattner said he isn't worried about Baan Co. NV, i2 Technologies Inc. or even Oracle Corp. "Yes, Oracle is a competitor but not a company we feel could kill us," he said.
But IBM and Microsoft are two companies that potentially could. "I've feared IBM all my life," Plattner said. "It's the second-best company I've ever worked for."
Microsoft Chairman Bill Gates once told him that Microsoft would never be a threat to SAP as long as the German software company "runs faster" than the U.S. software giant, Plattner said.
SAP now sees Microsoft as a competitor for business software and will "have to talk tougher," Plattner said. But SAP will continue to work closely with Microsoft at the operating system level. Customers expect SAP to offer its software for both Microsoft and non-Microsoft platforms, he said.