Two Concur co-founders to leave following SAP acquisition

The departures of Mike Hilton and Raj Singh were planned well in advance, said analysts

Two of Concur's three co-founders are leaving the travel and expense software company just a few weeks after SAP closed its acquisition of the vendor.

Mike Hilton, chief product officer, and Raj Singh, chief operating officer and president, are stepping down, according to an email Concur CEO and co-founder Steve Singh sent to employees on Monday.

"When Mike, Raj and I started out 21 years ago, we had a dream of building a world-class software business that would transform expense management as we know it. Mike and Raj have been instrumental in nurturing our company and growing it to incredible heights," wrote Steve Singh, who is Raj's brother.

Published reports said the pair's last day will be Jan. 30, but SAP didn't respond to an email confirming this information.

Given that Hilton and Raj Singh departed soon after SAP completed its purchase of Concur on Dec. 4, their exit was probably planned well in advance, said Ian Campbell, CEO of Nucleus Research. Discussions on their post-merger roles could have started even before SAP announced last September that it was buying Concur for US$8.3 billion, he said.

"The next phase is to bring it into the SAP world. I'm not sure that the folks who brought it to this point are best suited to do that," Campbell said.

Their departure won't impact the integration of Concur and SAP's technology. SAP wants a smooth transition and has a team in place to handle that task, he said.

The exit of the two co-founders, however, may possibly bring down the morale of the remaining employees, though many workers are staying on after the merger, said Ray Wang, chairman and founder of Constellation Research.

If the co-founders had remained, "it would have been nice for continuity but there are a lot of good folks there," Wang said. "Some folks know that it's time to leave after an acquisition or IPO and they want to move on to smaller, more innovative companies. Other folks at their stage of life may stick around and see what a larger company like SAP can offer," he said.

Executives who are staying on include Elena Donio, who will become president after serving as Concurs executive vice president and general manager, and Barry Padgett, who takes over as chief product officer and was previously executive vice president of traveler services. Both have been with Concur for longer than 15 years, Steve Singh wrote in the email, a copy of which was provided by SAP.

People who found companies have a different mindset than other employees, said Wang. When company founders leave after an acquisition, their departure doesn't necessarily mean there was disagreement on how the merged business should operate.

"Founders are different breeds. They usually want to build something else after they sell or try another adventure," he wrote.

Executive departures following a merger are common, said Campbell.

"You see the folks that were drivers go off and do something else," he said, adding that if additional Concur executives leave, their departures will also have been orchestrated in advance.

Fred O'Connor writes about IT careers and health IT for The IDG News Service. Follow Fred on Twitter at @fredjoconnor. Fred's e-mail address is fred_o'connor@idg.com

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Fred O'Connor

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