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« Customer (dis)Service | Main | Main Dish: »

Nov 29, 2004


Mark Finnern

Excellent fisking. Here are my additional 2 cents:

Best, Mark.

Craig Cmehil

And my additional two cents:

Shai Agassi


I read the article, it got under my skin as well but for a totally different reason. I believe Don is one of the smartest men in the VC industry. I believe consistent results talk volume, and he has delivered on all his funds. I met him once, recently, and I believe he says what he believes. so why did it get under my skin...
I believe we did a terrible job over the years in putting SAP into the right light in the Valley. SAP supplies prepackaged processes that support what Geoff Moore calls Context (read his upcoming book...) or undifferentiated processes for our customers. We support too many companies to count, and we do it in the best mission critical fashion. So why is it that we can't get people to get excited about us?
For a couple of reasons, one it is never exciting to support the "undifferentiating" part of business; "differentiation" (smart analytics, fancy algorithms, etc.) is always exciting. Our claim to fame is mission critical, only hear about us when it is not working. We have three or four of these cases (well within six sigma boundaries) but all have been highly publicized.
The other reason, is we did not do a good job in "platforming" ourselves, and attracting a solid supported eco-system. We are changing that. Hopefully at that point we will learn how to tell our story in an exciting way. We should take Don on his word and see what his opinion of SAP is in a few years.
So it got under my skin because I believe SAP is today at the best position to innovate this market, and architect it for renewed growth. It got under my skin because there will be many opportunities around SAP, and we must change the attitude towards SAP because companies that will find way to add value to our customers will enjoy a great market, and a great partner in SAP. It got under my skin because I believe we are participating in the most strategic of ways, we just haven't figured out whether (and for that matter how) to make noise about our participation. We shouldn't take it out on Don, we should fix our perception in the Valley.


thanks for taking the time to comment. Believe me when I say that I know I am in no position to criticize Don Valentine for being an investor who has 'delivered the goods' for more than than 30 years and that is truly deserving of enormous respect. I am critical of Valentine for parroting a critique of SAP that I could easily have read in 1998, but like yourself, I myself am critical of SAP for doing a poor job overall of helping the market understand what is really going on inside the company, so the fault does not lie with Valentine alone.

Ironically, SAP and Sequioa Capital were founded in the same year, 1972, and over that history have been both witness and protagonist to an astonishing period of growth and change. Our respective organizations are not standing still, therefore I hope that Valentine will invest some time in understanding why SAP is so well positioned, rather than casting us off as lacking in innovation and always late to the party (the part about NIH is historically accurate but changing dramatically in recent years).

It is true that perception is reality in the Valley and you and I agree on the urgency and importance of changing that perception as it relates to SAP.

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