Why TechCrunch is boring, SAP is not, and the world has gone mad

It’s cold by the way. Winter finally arrived, I realised as I pondered SAP’s acquisition of SuccessFactors on the run into work. I can still feel the cold imbued from the run into the metal palmrest of my laptop as I write this.

The highlight of the weekend was Alexis Tsotsis’ faux-gonzoistic impression on TechCrunch. I say faux, because it has the attitude of gonzo journalism but not the style. From what I get of her article, if it’s not Apple or a startup, she’s not interested – and therefore the SAP acquisition of SuccessFactors is not worth reading about:

…you can never be too sure with these incredibly dull companies. I am too bored to Google it. In fact, I am literally bored to tears writing this, like I am seriously crying here in my local coffee shop and everyone is looking at me weird…

Really, this says a lot more about what’s wrong about TechCrunch, and actually the world as a whole. And so last night, I was discussing this point with a bunch of Enterprise Irregulars on Twitter. I’m going to disagree with Dennis Howlett (who used to be an Irregular), which is always a good way to start the morning.

@dahowlett: @applebyj giving idiots ANY play is plain dumb

Sameer Patel chimes in with a reminder that the Facebook acquisition of Gowalla – a FourSquare-style location based service, got much more airtime.

@sameerpatel: @applebyj @dahowlett not shocking. Most of yesterday tech meme led w/ reruns of Gowalla FB acquisition for an undisclosed sum vs a $3B buy.

And Frank Scavo got the feel of the enterprise community spot on:

@fscavo: I stopped reading TechCrunch years ago. @alexias’s recent post reminds me why. cc: @dahowlett @applebyj

But actually I think that Timo Elliott nailed it. Yes Timo, this is the real world.

@timoelliott: Strangely, this techcrunch post about the “boring” SAP acquisition made me very proud: techcrunch.com/2011/12/03/zzz… #dudethisistherealworld

And let’s just be reminded about how real this world is:

Facebook SAP
Revenue $4bn (estimated) $12.46bn
Profit $1bn (estimated) $1.18bn
% of world’s transactions Ermm? 65%
Users 800m 500m
Market Capitalization $82bn $72bn

If you compare Facebook even by their own metrics, they are still insignificant compared to the behemoth that is SAP. Billions of people interact with SAP on a day to day basis – every transaction with giants like Barclays Bank. 90% of the world’s beer is produced by SAP. And since SAP’s Chief Marketing Officer Jonathan Becher took the time to point it out, I’ll quote him:

@jbecher: @applebyj Amused by bit.ly/tFOK7J Don’t forget 65% of world’s televisions, 86% of athletic footwear, or 70% of world’s chocolate

Who says that SAP isn’t cool, with such accolades! And yet Facebook has the greater market capitalization. Why is this? High growth and cool factor. But Facebook has not proven that it has a sustainable market model.

Why does this mean there is something wrong with TechCrunch?

Well it strikes me that TechCrunch gets Consumer IT and is all over the topics that generate a lot of traffic, like Apple, Facebook and Google, and there’s nothing wrong with this. I do however think there’s two major areas where TC has a problem:

First, Founder and former co-editor Michael Arrington sold out to AOL then whined about their involvement. What amazes me here is first, his naivety, and second his desire for self-importance.

Second, it’s fine if you don’t understand Enterprise IT. But don’t whine about it being boring – because if you read Alexia’s article you will see that there are (currently) 99 comments, all of which criticise her and her journalism. Don’t write a crap piece of journalism and then follow it up with “I was just being honest” on Twitter – and then delete the Twitter post.

06/12/11 Correction – Alexia’s “I was just being honest” was in the comments area, not a Tweet. She didn’t delete it. My bad.

And what’s wrong with the world?

Well for my money SAP is possibly the most interesting technology firm in the world right now. I make my money out of the SAP industry so perhaps I would say that, but it’s also born out by facts.

They have the leading enterprise mobility platform, integrated back into an incredibly complex suite of software that covers 65% of the world’s business transactions. They are leading the world with in-memory technology.

And to add to that they have just made a major cloud acquisition, which might be the third dimension to prevent the risk of their becoming irrelevant in 5-10 years time.

What’s wrong with the world is that they are so focussed on Apple, Google and Facebook – with their over inflated IPOs and everything that comes with that. The world was not built on technology bubbles – it was built on hard work and honest money.

For a small number of lucky individuals there is a bubble with an IPO and a retirement salary. For everyone else, the world is a very tough place to live. My advice: stop being bored by the stuff which makes the world turn.

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80 Responses to Why TechCrunch is boring, SAP is not, and the world has gone mad

  1. Juergen Schmerder says:


    • John Appleby says:

      Thanks mate. It’s actually got me thinking that perhaps a lot of the consumer IT public know very little about Enterprise Software and how it permeates into every day life.

      And the technical community perhaps don’t know that much yet about how companies like SAP have (to some degree) embraced open standards, and open source.

      Probably there is some room there for education and learning. It might be a great goal for 2012, and definitely a good discussion for SAP senior management next week in Boston.

  2. amal says:

    Great post mate! However Apple and Google are not over inflated by any means. FB’s valuation on the other hand is a classic example of Bubble 2.0.

    • John Appleby says:

      Can’t disagree with either point. Market cap of $362bn on $108bn revenue is not too bad.

      But it’s not even the point – all this interest around Apple is one thing, but in many cases distracts from the cold harsh reality of the ecosystem that surrounds Apple and Google.

  3. John,

    TC is more suited for the SV (mainly B2C) style technology companies. I follow the SV start-up scene fairly adamantly and most of the programmers there HATE enterprise software. The general angst is that enterprise IT organizations are not well suited for free-flowing rockstar developers, are very inefficient and non-innovative. It’s a much more meritocratic culture where github profiles are the norm for CVs and companies get acquired purely for talent (has this every happened in EnSw??). Anyway, a couple of comments:

    1. First, I don’t think its fair to compare SAP to Facebook based on metrics. That’s like saying a lemon is more sour than orange. Also, Apple is making real products that real people buy, and every day millions of people use Google and Facebook to do everything that may or may not include their daily job activities. I think your comment is more deep seeded into the “other” start-ups in SV-land…companies like Color, Instagram, Path, Foursquare, Groupon, etc. which I generally agree is quite “dumb”, but they are trendy and they get a lot of pageviews.

    2. TC audience isn’t enterprise software and I’m always surprised at why they even try to compete in the space.

    3. “They are leading the world with in-memory technology.” That’s a fairly blanket statement. First, SAP is generally the only large technology firm who is actively promoting that “in-memory technology will save the world”. Workday for example is already running its entire stack in-memory (using InnoDB/MySQL) and the SV world has created dozens of in-memory technologies or data retrieval stacks (memcached, Redis, Hadoop, HBase, etc). I’m sure you’ve seen the data before but Facebook’s data warehousing makes any SAP BW system look like peanuts.

    4. Personally SAP, as a technology, is boring from a developers perspective. Why? Because it doesn’t lend itself to a developer culture where “hackers” are norm. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hacker_(programmer_subculture) I see very few SAP developers stretching ABAP or the application stack to its extremities. The ones that do are VERY interesting, but they are not the norm. I would say that the BusinessObjects culture does lend itself to more of this. The general culture in SAP is “here is the spec and now go develop”, and hence why everything gets outsourced now.

    5. Pardon my french but Arrington is an asshat. Even most of the people even in SV do not like him, but also realize that TC is an amazing PR engine for getting their start-up heard.

    • John Appleby says:

      Mike, wow, big and detailed comment!

      1. I agree to some extent, but FB in particular is not impervious. It has a fragile business model and inflated valuation. Apple, too, operates in a fickle market.

      3. I’d argue that SAP are leading the charge towards an in-memory appliance platform. What they are looking to do is well beyond what the other players have achieved, and as someone who has experienced what HANA can do, I’m pretty sold on it. I may be wrong, but I think it’s fair to say that SAP is at the very least creating some impressive technology, which is genuinely interesting and fun to use.

      4. I totally disagree with this point at a micro level, but and agree at a macro level. Yes, in many instances it is boring because people make it boring. But I have projects that integrate SAP with iPads, with event processing and real-realtime behaviour management. And with open source projects like Ruby on Rails. I’d argue it’s boring because boring people made it so. The challenge on us as an Enterprise IT market is to change that. And that’s the fun stuff.

      • Haha, thanks! I have an acute interest in seeing how the two software “stacks” (SV-startup vs EnSw) collide so I love discussion around it.

        3. Ya, but I also thinks that’s because they are trying to create the market for it (i.e. sales driven, rather than purely technology). I too am very impressed with HANA…why? Because it is groundbreaking for enterprise software, but to claim that it is groundbreaking software just makes me think that most EnSw people can’t get their heads out of the enterprise sand. That being said I am very happy that SAP is actually pushing their customers to adopt the platform and can’t wait to explore the opportunities around it.

        4. Right, I’m talking about this more from a macro level. Gateway, River and HANA are truly interesting, but I fear that only a small corner of the market are seeing the value in it. Too many companies are tied up in commoditizing IT, when they should really be innovating and making IT more valuable. It’s more a knack on the IT culture than anything.

    • foljs says:

      “””1. First, I don’t think its fair to compare SAP to Facebook based on metrics. That’s like saying a lemon is more sour than orange.”””

      Which would be a totally valid statement and comparison.

  4. John, you hit the nail on the head, unfortunately the explanation is fairly simple IMHO. The business model of all these publications is to get eyeballs, and today’s ‘hot’ consumer brands get a lot more of them than any enterprise tech company….

    • John Appleby says:

      Thanks Ted. I know this is the case and it’s a sad reality, and this is the PR story that SAP and others need to change.

      I’m going to blog on this more some time, but it’s a key point of what is wrong with this society. We need to focus on what’s going to make money, and not what’s hot. And this starts with schooling, education, university and careers. And continues with our spending, saving and expectations of society.

      And it’s also why SAP needs to be come cool – you guys need the best talent. And it’s not headed into the Enterprise IT market consistently any more.

      • gregorylent says:

        we need to focus on what makes value .. and money doesn’t measure value

      • John Appleby says:

        I’m not 100% sure what you mean so it’s tough for me to reply.

        But what I’d say for sure is we need to focus on what is going to make this world a profitable place once more. The days of the baby boomer generation are over and the world is in massive debt. It’s going to be a tough 10-20 years and Bubble 2.0 only makes it worse.

  5. Obed says:

    Great article. I’ve been reading TechCrunch for years, always supporting them, but lately you can’t support the kind of crap that goes out like Alexia’s “article”, They remind me of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button, they were mature and interesting (for me at least) but they’re “growing” into a baby, and eventually will die. Everyday it stops looking like the original TechCrunch and more like a poor imitation of Mashable. It’s a shame, really. Nice article, Appleby. Really opened my eyes.

    • John Appleby says:

      I like the metaphor, it does seem to me that they are becoming a parody of themselves. I’ve got to say I’ve never been a big TC fan myself – I prefer to aggregate my own news on Google or Twitter. But there seems to be no shortage of people who did like TC and no longer do.

      • I like the Benjamin Button analogy. The downward quality spiral started at least 18 months ago. I noticed myself skimming through the headlines on TechCrunch and then reading the actual stories on VentureBeat, GigaOM, or ReadWriteWeb (and hoping PaidContent’s high quality writers would cover the story in depth).

        TC is unfortunately the holy grail for start-up guys in Silicon Valley. I don’t see that changing anytime soon.

        Decided to finally speak up: http://crunchmunched.wordpress.com/

    • The Benjamin Button effect on TechCrunch has really snowballed since AOL bought them (and later forced out Arrington). They’ve begun to pander pretty much exclusively to the latest, hottest startups, with no regard for whether there’s a value proposition to the offering, or even a monetization strategy (ahem, Path, Color, et al). It’s a pervasive culture in the Silicon Valley, and even to an extent in New York. I posit that Arrington actually was the force behind keeping their feet at least tenuously on the ground for years, but since AOL took over, they’re producing more and more silly pap. Arrington may be an asshat, but at least he ran a business that provided relevant content.

      The funny bit is, I work at a B2B SaaS startup in a customer-facing role, and even *I* agree wholeheartedly that the VC-schmoozing popularity contest that defines so much of the startup world today is just ludicrous. How about building an actual product that people need, that works, and that solves a problem? Guess what: do that, and people will pay you for it.

      I may be just a dumb salesperson, but that doesn’t seem like rocket science to me.

      On a separate note, though, damn. How come SAP’s margins are so low?

  6. Samer Zureikat says:

    If I want news and details about an SAP/IBM/Oracle (even Salesforce.com) deal, I would read The Wall Street Journal or The Financial Times. I read TechCrunch for news about innovative companies doing work on the fringes of technology (consumer or otherwise).

    Alexia’s article was spot on and hilarious! I, too, found the news of SAP’s acquisition boring. I skipped the articles in the WSJ and FT, but I did read Alexia’s post (:

    Laugh a little…

    • John Appleby says:

      I hear you – but your point of view is a real minority here. I think there was scope for one of two things: 1) to not bother commenting at all 2) to make a comment which was relevant to the readers of TC. Note that it’s a lot of TC diehards that are defiling the comment board on TC. It was her own audience that she disenchanted.

      So I can see the amusing side… but it’s also slightly tragic.

  7. karanm says:

    I think the point being missed in the valuation of these companies is user engagement. FB gets the engagement and learns a lot about what the user is doing, ‘likes’ and what their relationship is to others. This is very valuable information to marketers …

    SAP customers may be touching 500M users and 65% of the world’s GDP, but SAP doesn’t know much about that in detail (yet) – maybe some in aggregate. Obviously, acquisitions like SuccessFactors are an attemp on their part to get closer to those end users (or at least gain more detailed and valuable knowledge about them).

    • John Appleby says:

      Facebook has totally got how to be cool and how to understand trends and people. Complete respect to Zuck for his vision and I’m not some Facebook basher, I am a fairly active user. But Facebook has a 19x multiplier on revenue and no tried and tested business model. Sorry, but that’s a bubble.

      SAP knows it doesn’t get this stuff and is really trying to get there. It is trying (and has failed so far, but may be starting to get places) with its Streamwork Enterprise social networking integration. And it’s definitely trying to do something with the SuccessFactors acquisition, which may well be as much to do with understanding its outer reach install base via social networking, as anything else, with CubeTree’s technology.

      I think we’re probably in violent agreement. 🙂

  8. viandante says:

    One point.

    SAP is extremely expensive and overly complex. You can’t touch it, you need SAP consultants all the time.

    I don’t know. I just see why it’s not hot.

    • John Appleby says:

      SAP as a system of record is installed for pretty much one reason: it reduces the cost of operations. So you may say it’s expensive, but there’s a reason why 176,000 companies run it – because it reduces cost.

      On the consulting point you have a point, and obviously I work in the SAP consulting arena so I know it well. It’s an area that Chairman of the Executive Board, Hasso Plattner, has screamed out about when creating their new in-memory technology, HANA. They don’t want the old rip-off SI model from the 1980s and 90s. Neither do I. I want open standards, open integration and the ability to use commoditised resources especially for the edge.

      Would SAP still be uncool in your world if they managed that?

  9. Anthony says:

    Awesome post, I could not have said it better myself !

    • John Appleby says:

      Thank you, and thanks to the hundreds of people on Twitter etc. that have shared this post and added their feedback. This is pretty odd for me because it’s an article I wrote between running in the office and my first meeting, in less than 30 minutes; it was reactionary, a bit raw, and for some reason it seems to have captured people’s imaginations. There never seems to be a way to know why a particular blog has that secret sauce, but I’m glad people enjoyed it.

  10. “stop being bored by the stuff which makes the world turn” I wish I could come up with statements like this. Very well put and I couldn’t agree more.

  11. truant says:

    people just don’t get it.

    • John Appleby says:

      Actually I’d conjecture that the reaction to this post has restored a bit of faith in humanity for me.

      Maybe it’s all to easy to get hung up in the get-rich-quick internet bubble 2.0. Perhaps we just sometimes need a reminder of that. I’d like to be optimistic.

  12. AP² says:

    “Cool” means innovative and unpredictable. I’m sorry, but that’s not the image that SAP transmits to the world. Whether they actually innovate is irrelevant; perception is what counts. Revenue and profits are also irrelevant; in fact, size works _against_ it, since familiarity breeds contempt.

    In fact, you said it yourself: they had to buy themselves into not becoming irrelevant in the next 5-10 years. I’d say that’s a good definition of boring.

    But don’t get me wrong: I’m not criticizing SAP. Boring can be good. The big enterprises who run on 70s technology _want_ boring. The people like me who want to get a steady paycheck and a job who won’t disappear tomorrow want it too.
    It’s simply a different business plan.

    • John Appleby says:

      Well this needs a whole suite of blog posts on its own, but I’ve got to disagree with you on this. Yes, SAP was boring. Its R/3 ERP software remains practically green-screen especially for people working in Financials and other backoffice areas. YAWN. However it is a profitable business that makes other businesses more profitable. In these days of massive losses over failed IPOs and the crash of the global economy – reliable systems of record are super important.

      And in any case, that’s old SAP. Welcome to new SAP, headed up by Bill McDermott, who is a US politician in the making and handles the sales side of the company, and Jim Snabe, who handles the product side of the company. They have surrounded themselves by a serious senior management team who get some of these issues. Out, with layers and layers of middle management and in with design thinking.

      And yes – huge risk that SAP become irrelevant. And with them, HP, Oracle, Nokia, Motorola, Microsoft and others. But from where I sit in the technology arena, SAP is the only one of those firms which is taking calculated risks to do something about it. The SuccessFactors acquisition is one of those risks.

      I totally agree that SAP continues to be perceived as uncool – but I predict this will change. Have you seen the YouTube advert and Skullcandy success story?

      Watch this space.

      • AP² says:

        Yeah, maybe SAP will be able turn around and market themselves as a “reliable but cool” company, but achieving that with a company which is already ingrained in people’s opinion is like maneuvering a supertanker: it’s possible but hard and slow.

        Thanks for the tip on the videos!

      • John Appleby says:

        I couldn’t agree more. It is a superhuman challenge for them, but I think if they don’t do it, they are screwed. Because Salesforce, Workday, and others are cool – and they are slowly eating into SAP’s meal ticket. And that’s the fun stuff.

  13. Bob says:

    They don’t cover Exxon either. So what. That’s their choice to focus.

  14. akshay says:

    Great article!
    If HANA was built by a bunch of college students and was funded my Mike’s CrunchFund, TC would be talking about it everywhere. I personally think HANA isn’t getting the attention that its supposed to. I was blown away when I saw it for the first time. That’s technology. That’s the future of enterprise business. For all we know, AOL and TC will be using it to study user data soon.

    • John Appleby says:

      HANA is amazing. It’s exactly what CrunchFund would have come up with. It’s based on commodity hardware. The Linux OS. The interface is based on Eclipse. It ticks all the boxes. And it’s very very cool.

      In an hour, you can build a structure, load a billion rows into memory and do split-second slice-and-dice reporting and way you like – and if you don’t believe me, I’ll show you. You can’t say that’s not cool!

  15. webreac says:

    hello, two month ago I have followed a small seminar about “Urbanisation of the IS”. SAP was often quoted for its bad interroperability and how it is a trap for clients.

    SAP is something of the past that cost a lot of money to many companies. The faster you get rid of it, the better.

    • John Appleby says:

      You’re definitely entitled to your opinion but I wonder who ran your seminar series and I wonder what their agenda was.

      SAP is expensive to implement, of course – as are all large scale computer systems. But it is by far used by companies that outperform their competition – look at Porsche, Rolls Royce, Burton, Disney and so many others. I don’t deal with SAP customers that want to get rid of it, especially for core operations. The number of organisations moving off SAP onto another ERP platform is tiny, because of the cost of implementing another system, and the lack of tangible benefit.

      In terms of interoperability, that was definitely the case years ago. With today’s SAP environments you can integrate pretty much any way you want using open standards. I wonder whether the person informing you knew how this works. SAP supports Web Services (SOAP & REST), for a start – so you can integrate with any website, any external company, any mobile device – easily.

  16. Gleb Esman says:

    SAP – SHMAP.
    You people missed the whole point.
    You just promoted and propelled career of young reporter/writer Alexia to worldwide visibility.
    She perfectly utilized the point of controversy to have you all write about her for free. In her business negative publicity is as good as positive. Or better.
    Ok, now get back to SAP-ping….


    • John Appleby says:

      Sorry Gleb but that’s BS. Alexia gets massive press already – I doubt this made the slightest difference to her page views or her brand. She has 35k twitter followers compared to my 1200. This is a slight blip to her and I think at the most, people have lost some respect for TC over this.

      What this has done is to get a load of views to this page, and it seems to have got a lot of people thinking about how Bubble 2.0 is BS. I actually see that, and my realisation that the wider tech community doesn’t know all that much about SAP – as a huge positive. And it’s got me thinking to what I might do next year, which is always a bonus.

  17. Alexia Tsotsis says:

    I didn’t delete any Twitter post. I wrote “I’m just being honest” in the Facebook comments. This is what I wrote on Twitter https://twitter.com/#!/alexia/status/143163216321716225 and I stand by it.

    • John Appleby says:

      Thanks for the clarification and it was my mistake – I was looking for a tweet which was actually a FB comment. I will correct the article in a moment. Still don’t like the article 🙂

    • Alexia — are “re-blogging the press release” and “condescending dismissive post” the only two choices? As someone whose covered many different kinds of tech (and even non-tech) I know that’s not the case.

  18. Bill Henderson says:

    Really? Have any of you used SAP’s flagship ERP product? It is anything but interesting. It was interesting 20 years ago, and all of the companies that were sucked in then are trapped in a never-ending upgrade cycle because it is too expensive to get away.

    Yes, they have a lot of money in the bank to acquire companies on the cutting edge but I wouldn’t call them anything close to interesting.

    A truly interesting company would use modern technology to shake up the ERP world.

    • John Appleby says:

      Sure, I use it every day, it’s what my business unit is based around. They totally changed the upgrade mechanism to quarterly updates that you can apply easily and extend with innovation – the days of never-ending upgrades are long gone.

      And the interesting stuff is what we implement around ERP. Mobile apps for knowledge workers, in-memory analytics. Next generation web stores. Event processing and real-time businesses. Using modern technology to shake up the ERP world is exactly what I believe SAP is doing.

      Shame it appears to be in a silo that isn’t visible to the wider world 🙂

      • Bill Henderson says:

        I’m sorry but when non-German power-users use memorized German acronyms just to navigate the UI I can’t call it interesting or innovative.

        It’s great that they’ve built a platform upon which you can build interesting stuff but the amount of money and time that must be invested to think the “SAP way” is just ridiculous.

  19. Maxwell says:

    Ah, but even SAP’s market is now beginning to get eaten up by newcomers, yet they’ve barely noticed due to the continually growing market and the stealth with which people are infiltrating their market space.

    One of our products is rapidly replacing SAP for specific functions (supply chain materials legislative compliance (sounds boring, isn’t)) in a variety of major ($100bn+ market cap) organisations.

    Enterprise software is what makes the world’s economic heart keep beating. Facebook is a marketing platform that gets huge amounts of attention, *because it’s a marketing platform and it’s purpose is to be in the media, constantly*.

    • John Appleby says:

      They have definitely noticed! Salesforce has been killing them around CRM. Workday is hurting them especially in the US, for HR. They’re trying to fight this trend and acquiring SuccessFactors is one of the things that is all about.

      And the open enterprise means that you will continue to do well in your niche, and that is OK. What SAP have to do is to innovate and acquire in new areas, so that they don’t have to cover every niche that is covered better by organizations like yhours.

      +1 on your last point.

  20. There’s no doubt SAP is a huge and successful company but that doesn’t make their
    products interesting or even good. SAP sells most of its stuff because
    deciders in enterprise environments simply don’t know any better (same
    applies to many other traditional enterprise vendors as well, by the

    Using enterprise products more often than not feels like an inelegant
    crutch when compared to modern web applications. Enterprise
    culture seems to favour “complexity for complexity’s sake” and “cover
    my ass” attitudes, all of which adds to an overall picture that
    doesn’t exactly appeal to startup / hacker culture types and the TechCrunch audience in general.

    SuccessFactors’ mission statement “helps organizations align strategy
    with objectives and manage people performance to ensure execution &
    results” says it all or rather it says nothing at all. It’s that kind
    of bullshit talk that has garnered the enterprise software industry
    and the software industry as a whole such a bad reputation.

    I’m not saying that the enterprise market is not interesting. Quite to
    the contrary. It’s just the incumbents in the market that got it

    By the way, your statement that 90% of the world’s beer is produced by
    SAP is just plain wrong. Breweries produce beer. ERP and accounting
    software doesn’t produce anything but is merely a tool that helps them
    in doing so.

  21. @leosaraceni says:

    Here’s a TC article that’s worth bringing up – http://techcrunch.com/2011/08/27/aim-for-the-enterprise/

    It’s cool to build apps that maybe 20000 people will use. But like LinkedIn, Facebook, Foursquare, Color, etc… they’re simple trends. They come and go. There’s no sustainability in their business model.

    Enterprise is where the money’s at. But they’re quite boring indeed. Just like it’s boring to work in a cubicle vs working at Google.

    What irritates me about Alexia’s post is that it feels like she was forced to write it. Like a toddler doing something against will, she wrote a BLAH piece. Again, why would she write about it? Unless it’s all a big plan to increase pageviews. Everybody knows since their public “let’s fire Mike” debate, they havent had a real pageview catalyst.

  22. This attitude discourages entrepreneurs from tackling enterprise problems. That means less competition for those of us who do, but it is still a lost opportunity for many entrepreneurs who think only hot social apps are worth putting their time into.

  23. Wolfgang Keller says:

    The reason why I have a personal hate against SAP is that SAP lobbies a lot for software patents (especially in Europe, where there don’t exist software patents per se – although there are some loopholes). See for example http://en.swpat.org/wiki/SAP and http://en.swpat.org/wiki/Campaign_for_creativity

    Since I am strongly opposed to software patents I have no reason not to have a hate against SAP. Many hackers (who are often opinion leaders in technical questions) are also strongly against software patents.

    You may consider Facebook’s business model to be rather fragile (and probably be right) – but because of this reason I admit to prefer it over SAP (despite having lots of privacy concerns against Facebook).

  24. Scott Schnaars says:

    Well said, John. Great post!

  25. Consumers are more interested in B2C coverage because many of those articles are extensions of the very marketing campaigns directed at those same consumers. If you can make money doing that, more power to you. And if you are a B2B marketeer, you know that channels like TechCrunch are not important, so don’t sweat it. When you pull back the marketing curtain at most tech companies, the innovations, patent disputes, and personalities are no less interesting in B2B than B2C. (Notice the emotion the name SAP evokes!) But that’s business journalism, the domain of outfits like the Wall Street Journal, a much different business model than the Valley Mouthpieces.

  26. “Insignificant to the behemoth that is SAP”? Where do you get that from? By your numbers Facebook has 60% more users and practically the same profit amount on a THIRD of the revenue, making their margins a healthy 25% that will only keep growing while SAP’s 9% wil realistically be hard to improve. This makes the 15% diference in their market cap small in my opinion.

    More importantly for the purpose of this article though, Facebook is a company that in the space of a few years went from being just an idea to a global phenomenon that has fundamentally changed the way humans communicate and interact with each other. This is the kind of company that TechCrunch writes about because it is the kind of success story that defines a generation of entrepreneurs and motivates them to start the new great companies of the world.

    There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that SAP is also a great and innovative company, and I’m sure TechCrunch would have covered it with great excitement had it been around in 1972 when it was started by a couple of IBM engineers. Unfortunately, it is now a 40 year old company and as much as you may love SAP, it’s definitely not TechCrunch’s bread and butter.

    It’s fine if you don’t like the way TechCrunch writes or thinks, you’re probably not the target audience anyway and there are a lot of blogs that cover the enterprise IT stuff. My question is, what are you doing on a blog you don’t like criticizing a writer for expressing her opinion? She’s not saying the SAP/SuccessFactors deal doesn’t matter, she’s just saying she’s BORED by it. And frankly, so what?

  27. fpp says:

    To stay within your example “…90% of the world’s beer is produced by SAP…” maybe that’s why so many of them are so flat – guess we should get back some “head” onto those.

    I believe SAP has understood that it made some major mistakes in the past and now finally is starting to reinvent itself – this is one core element of every great company.
    Get back to your drawing boards and start with bringing back engineering and inventions.

    We all looking forward to some new “sparkling” in that company

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  29. Walter says:

    SAP is great just like Boney M is… If you like 80’s, it’s your choice. Their success has nothing to see with intelligence or researches. It’s exactly the same as facebook : they are/were the first, impose their vision and that’s the only thing that matter (for “directors” and “chiefs”).

    The only one old-school big (software) company which was really innovative was Sun, and it’s over (hear me well, JVM is a diamond, not Java).

  30. Dave Walz says:

    get a life, stop wining about how a tech b2b company that you are more interested in isnt getting the same amount of press… it is a boring company. and seems like less profitable too.

  31. Re: My cited Twitter comment above in John’s post…..

    @sameerpatel: @applebyj @dahowlett not shocking. Most of yesterday tech meme led w/ reruns of Gowalla FB acquisition for an undisclosed sum vs a $3B buy.

    ….just got more poignant. Arrington’s Uncrunched reports on Gowalla: “Some investors seem to know the terms of the deal – they’ll be getting twenty or thirty cents back for every dollar invested (the company has raised a little more than $10 million).”

    SuccessFactors shareholders, in comparison, got a whopping 50% premium on market value.

    Sometimes it’s better to leave it at “undisclosed sum” -)

  32. This is awesome – there is a similar post re: TechCrunch on http://www.growdetroit.com/put-that-techcrunch-down/

  33. Armin says:

    Great article John! I couldn’t agree with you more. The world needs more honest writers/bloggers like you 🙂

  34. they way I look at it is this; imagine suddenly that one of the following companies just “magically disappeared” overnight and think about what the impact would be. lets take Facebook, Google, Apple, Amazon, Microsoft (the ones that TC and the tech literati follow) and add Oracle and SAP
    If FB disappeared, apart from the sudden rise in teenage angst, the world would continue, Google would be missed but its recoverable ground and the world continues, Amazon goes … well we don’t care too much about the sales shop, but there would be a significant ripple at the loss of their cloud capability. Apple – well economies don’t depend on them – and there would be much wailing and rending of garments, but … However lose any of Microsoft SAP ORACLE and the world as you know it changes overnight – economies fail, jobs cease … the importance of these companies is huge and real. They may seem dull, and indeed innovation in the enterprise is at a low ebb, but the reality is the significant % of IT that actually matters is dependent on these companies. The world is not dependent on the FBs of this world.

  35. Wayne says:

    I enjoyed your blog!

    I have heard SAP called worse than behemoth …


    But, its share of the ERP market is behemoth. So the moniker fits.


  36. Tim Clark says:


  37. Vital BI says:

    Well, Alexis’s writeup certainly deserved 3 stars out of 5, just as her coffee shop at Yelp. It was provocative enough just as we saw with all comments…

  38. Landon says:

    I thought that I was the only one thinking all of this. Thanks you.

  39. bndctc says:

    TechCrunch used to be the site that I used to visit quite often. Now? Never.

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  45. Anand Gupta says:

    John, interesting statistics. Difficult to see rational in valuation but after banking crisis and dot com; expecting rational behavior from financial markets itself is not much logical. We may rationalize irrational behavior by using ‘cool’ etc, but I am sorry I cant see ‘cool’ making money for me.

  46. Anand Gupta says:

    John, may I say a word to those critical of SAP; it is business that are complex, not SAP. If you do not like complexity open a corner shop and use mark-up only price to sell.

  47. Pingback: Enterprise Software Sucks | Jared Jenkins

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