Does SAP’s Hasso Plattner Have a Real PhD?

Executive Summary

  • Hasso Plattner is frequently introduced as Dr. Hasso Plattner.
  • Is Hasso Plattner’s degree anything but honorary?


In a previous article, I questioned whether Hasso Plattner behaved as a Ph.D. The reason being that he is so often divorced from reality. He also does not communicate in a style that is consistent with other Ph.D.’s I know, and I proposed that people who have Ph.D.’s who don’t care what is true, should be required to give those Ph.D.’s back. Since that time someone reached out to me to explain that he did not think Hasso had a real Ph.D.

Searching for Hasso’s P.h.D.

Since I began working in SAP, it had always been generally accepted that Hasso Plattner was  Ph.D. In reference after reference, Hasso is repeatedly referred to as “Dr. Hasso Plattner.” In fact, I was once told to add “Dr.” to Hasso Plattner’s name because if Hasso Plattner had attained a Ph.D., then it was required that I add that to every possible reference. That is not true, but this demonstrates the degree to which the idea that Hasso must have a Ph.D.

However, when I went go and look for Hasso’s Ph.D. I could find no mention of it outside of this quote from Wikipedia.

“Since his retirement from SAP, Plattner has been particularly active as a benefactor in the field of technological research. Media reports have named him one of Germany’s most important private sponsors of scientific research. Plattner received his honorary doctorate in 2002 and his honorary professorship in 2004 from the University of Potsdam. Plattner had also received an honorary doctorate (1990) and an honorary professorship in Information Systems (1994) from the Saarland University, Saarbrücken. The same university named him an honorary senator in 1998.[12]”

So Hasso appears to have two honorary doctorates. Outside of these two honorary doctorates, Hasso does not appear in any other source to have his P.h.D listed. This is odd. I read many books and research papers from authors that have P.h.Ds and with each of these authors, it is a straightforward matter to find their P.h.Ds. That is the schools they attended, when they attended them and what the subject for which they attained their P.h.D. Yet, with Hasso, I can’t find this.

How Honorary P.h.D’s Work and Who Gets Them

Now lets us discuss the honorary P.h.D for a moment. Honorary P.h.Ds are given out like candy often for providing a commencement speech. The work involved in getting one is nothing, and they are usually given out to high-profile individuals. There is also an ethic involved with honorary P.h.Ds. That is, you are not supposed to pretend it is a real P.h.D. They are basically a joke P.h.D. Again, honorary P.h.D given for a commencement ceremony speech, real P.h.D can take 4 years to attain and only about 1 out of 140 people (in the US at least) to attain an undergraduate degree ever attain a P.h.D.

Moreover, this story gets better. This is because Hasso did not stop at pretending to have a P.h.D. He also decided to start an institute at the university close to his personal residence, the University of Potsdam.

However, how can a person who has never completed a P.h.D program start up a pseudo-mini-university? Its all a bit ridiculous. This is explained in the following quotation from Wikipedia.

“Also in 1998, Plattner founded the Hasso Plattner Institute[3] for software systems engineering based at the University of Potsdam, and in Palo Alto, California, its sole source of funding being the non-profit Hasso Plattner Foundation for Software Systems Engineering. Plattner has pledged €50 million of his personal fortune over a period of 20 years. Since its foundation, Plattner’s commitment to the HPI has quadrupled to over €200 million. He not only fully finances the HPI, but is also actively involved as a director and lecturer in Enterprise Platforms and Integration Concepts.[13]”

Again, the University of Potsdam also conferred upon him one of his honorary degrees. Obviously, the University of Potsdam benefits from having the Hasso Plattner Institute on their campus. Was this one of the motivating factors in conferring an honorary P.h.D. to Hasso Plattner?

A Fictitious Backstory from a Fictitious P.h.D?

The Hasso Plattner Institute is the location of yet another made up story by both Hasso and SAP where they created a deliberately false backstory to make it appear that Hasso and his P.h.D. candidates created a “whole new database,” which I previously covered in Did Hasso Plattner and His Ph.D. Students Invent HANA?

One of the major problems with HANA has been that it was designed in great part by Hasso Plattner, who was never qualified to design a database. This constant overestimation of knowledge is consistent with faking academic credentials.

Later he donated money to Stanford and they created the Hasso Plattner Institute of Design. SAP has used this to promote Fiori, repeatedly leveraging the Stanford name. Yet after the institute being created, and all the discussion around Design Thinking (which I covered in the article Does Design Thinking Improve SAP’s Implementation Speed?), the output of Fiori is underwhelming.

Falsified Academic Authority

Hasso, and SAP used his honorary degrees to communicate false authority for over a decade and a half. Neither Hasso nor SAP ever let on that Hasso’s degrees were honorary. I have been reading and analyzing Hasso Plattner’s writing and quotations for years, and find that he constantly lies and constantly pivots between topics which demonstrates an unstructured mind. This is the last person who would make a good P.h.D candidate. My analysis of Hasso Plattner’s writings is that he works backward from what he wants to be true, and makes up a story to fit the conclusion. That is sales, not academic thinking. I know whenever I read his material or watch his presentations that I can’t trust that any of it is true.

Ding Ding Ding

We award Hasso Plattner the Golden Pinocchio Award for claiming to have a real P.h.D when in fact he only holds honorary P.h.D.s. 


This honorary P.h.D issue is another case of both Hasso and SAP using deception to trick customers into thinking that there is some great mind behind SAP. And the trick worked. It worked on me. I never thought to actually look up Hasso Plattner’s educational credentials. Naively, I never thought that someone, particularly someone so well known would falsify his or her P.h.D by converting an honorary P.h.D to a real P.h.D.

If anyone can find Hasso Plattner’s academic doctoral credentials, send them to me the link to review. But as I said, it is very odd that they would not be easily found.

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