Shai Agassi's Travel Schedule and Thoughts on Hosted Software

Quick comments on this SF Chronicle interview of SAP’s Shai Agassi:

1. He travels 29 weeks a year. How does he have a family? Through his answers his attitude seems to be, "I know I’m not around enough, but they’ll learn the value of hard work through my example." I like this better than people who say, "No, I really am home enough! I go to Johnny’s games!"

I would love to dig in and see how Agassi deals with work-life balance on a day-to-day level…

2. He sees on-demand as "trendy" and the hybrid approach as a nut cracked by SAP. That is, the managed appliance model of customer owning the box but maintained and upgraded by the vendor. I’m more bullish on more pure hosted software: I think we’re just scratching the surface of the internet infrastructure and over the next five years we’ll see the customer be able to customize software extensively even if the base code is shared with lots of people. I also think the reliability issues will resolve themselves as the model becomes the standard; SFDC’s problems of late reminds me of eBay’s IT infrastructure problems when they became huge. If anything, it’s a sign of the critical mass.

3 comments on “Shai Agassi's Travel Schedule and Thoughts on Hosted Software
  • SAP gets a lot of criticism on its hybrid approach to SaaS. I’ve personally experienced mixed signals, the “we’re in it, but not quite enthusiasticallly” attitude talking to SAP exec’s at SAPPHIRE 06.

    What people tend to forget, it’s not about SAP “getting it” or not. They have a huge baggage, their legacy cutomer base, all using on-premise, “traditional” enterprise software. As the currently dominant Enterprise Software player, they have a balancing act, and with that baggage the hybrid model if probably as far as they can go now.

    I recently met an Executive of Workday, a pureplae SaaS company, started by PeopleSoft Founder Dave Duffield and staffed mostly by ex-PeopleSoft-ers. He and I agreed that they could not have pulled it off – the pure SaaS model and some innovation we dicussed in the “old” company. They are the same people, but left the baggage behind – due to a hostile takeover, but that’s irrelevant here.

    As for the family issue, I simply don’t believe global business leaders have a balance. Just read Vinnie’s story about Life 2.0 

  • Ben,

    The issue of balancing work and family is an important one. I just put up a fairly long post on the topic:

    I won’t repost the entire post here (the first part of which actually began as a comment on another post on deal architect), but I will post a quote from Bill George, the former CEO of Medtronic, whom I went to with these kinds of questions:

    “At the end of the day, what is more important to you, your family or your money? One is a lasting legacy, the other just disappears when you die.

    You CAN have a successful career and a successful family life – you just have to work at balancing the two every day. More hours on the job do not make you a better executive or a better leader.”

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