WHO WE ARE

The Founder

Prof. Dr. h.c. mult. Hasso Plattner

THE VISIONARY

Hasso Plattner was born in Berlin in 1944. He moved to the South of Germany shortly before graduating from high-school and studied Communications Engineering at the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), graduating in 1968. In that same year, he started working as a program developer at IBM Germany in Mannheim. In 1972, Hasso Plattner, along with four former IBM colleagues, founded the enterprise software company SAP. Their concept of a standard software running on proprietary hardware gained widespread demand. When the company went public in 1988, Hasso Plattner was appointed Deputy Chairman of the Executive Board and served as CEO from 1997 to 2003.

In 2003, Hasso Plattner stepped back from SAP’s day-to-day operations and joined the Supervisory Board as its Chairman. Under his guidance, SAP became one of Germany’s most valuable companies and still holds that position today, employing more than 100.000 people worldwide. As Chief Software Advisor, he continues to advise SAP on its medium and long-term technological direction and strategy. To this day he is known for his strive to successfully combine business and science as well as for future-oriented research, innovation, and entrepreneurship.

In 1998, he founded the Hasso Plattner Institute for Software Systems Engineering (HPI) at the University of Potsdam. Hasso Plattner played an active role in research and teaching as the head of the department “Enterprise Platform and Integration Concepts” until spring 2023, contributing to numerous ground-breaking innovations. One of his most significant contributions at the HPI is the research into in-memory data management, which led to the creation of S/4HANA, a central element in SAP’s portfolio today. In 2012, this technology received both the German Innovation Award and the Berlin-Brandenburg Innovation Award.

In 2007, Hasso Plattner expanded the HPI to include the HPI School of Design Thinking. Here, advanced students from all disciplines can learn how to work in multidisciplinary teams to develop innovative products and services for various areas of life. In 2010, the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design at Stanford University in California was established to prepare a generation of innovators to address complex challenges.

In 2013, Hasso Plattner joined the Giving Pledge initiative of Bill and Melinda Gates and Warren Buffett, committing to donate the majority of his wealth to philanthropic causes. After signing the Giving Pledge, he established the independent philanthropic Hasso Plattner Foundation in 2015.

Hasso Plattner holds a profound passion for collecting and sharing art. He began collecting art around the time of SAP’s IPO, resulting in an impressive private art collection, focusing on Impressionism, Expressionism, and modern art. To share his enthusiasm for art with the public, Hasso Plattner established the Museum Barberini in Potsdam in 2017, which has become one of the most visited museums in Germany.

Combining his love for art and his technical expertise, he initiated and co-founded the Wildenstein Plattner Institute (WPI) in New York City. WPI is dedicated to the study of art history and strives to enhance accessibility, cataloging, and digitization of archival materials supporting critical research in the field.

Recently, Hasso Plattner has been an invaluable supporter of the Foundation’s acquisition of the former Café Minsk in Potsdam, an almost-lost architectural and historical landmark. The Foundation has transformed it into a new, modern museum focused on contemporary art, creating a fresh and modernized landmark for Potsdam, adding yet another cultural highlight to the city.

RECOGNITION

Hasso Plattner has received numerous academic accolades. He holds honorary doctorates from the Karlsruhe Institute of Technology (KIT), the University of Mannheim, the University of Potsdam, and the University of Saarland. Additionally, he serves as an honorary professor at the University of Potsdam and the University of Saarland, where he also holds the title of honorary senator.

Throughout his career, Hasso Plattner was awarded for his entrepreneurial spirit, technological expertise, and dedication to business, research, and science. Notable among these awards are:

  • the Werner von Siemens Ring in recognition of his life’s work as an engineer. “As the founder of SAP, Hasso Plattner had a decisive influence on Germany as a business location and built bridges between science and research, industry and politics.”;
  • the Leibniz Medal for his “equally extraordinary and exemplary commitment”;
  • the “Information Technology Leadership Award for Global Integration” from the Computerworld Smithsonian Awards program in recognition of his pivotal role as the principal architect of SAP’s R/3 system;
  • the Order of Merit of the State of Brandenburg;
  • the Leonardo European Corporate Learning Award in the “Thought Leadership” category;
  • the Lifetime Achievement Award of the German American Business Association (GABA);
  • the Prize for Understanding and Tolerance for his philanthropic activities promoting science, as well as for his entrepreneurial innovation and social and cultural projects initiated by him at the Jewish Museum Berlin;
  • honorary citizenship of Potsdam, the capital of the State of Brandenburg.