Similarities Between Thomas Edison, Elizabeth Holmes and Hasso Plattner

Executive Summary

  • After analyzing SAP more than any other research entity, we have come to some important conclusions regarding Hasso Plattner that are not generally known.


Companies tend to centralize their coverage around a person who is put forward by the company without checking if the person put forward is the individual who is the primary innovator. In this article, we will draw parallels between Thomas Edison, Elizabeth Holmes, and Hasso Plattner.

Thomas Edison

Thomas Edison is often considered one of the most prolific inventors in the world, but this conclusion can only be come to if one does not research Thomas Edison’s background. Thomas Edison took credit for making improvements in a light bulb, but this was due to a US patent of British inventory Joseph Swann. Thomas Edison ran a lab where he, as a normal course of behavior, exploited other inventors that were drawn to his Menlo Park, NJ facility due to Edison’s frequent and high profile coverage in the press at the time. Just the number of patents that Edison accumulated, which was 1093, should raise suspicions as to whether these patents were Edison’s from those that he employed.

Thomas Edison was a minor technological talent, but a major marketing talent. And he determined what image the public was looking for, and created it.

“The people wanted a man of singular genius and competence; a man whose ideas and will shaped the world around him; a face that they could put on progress and American technological dominance. And Edison obliged. He made himself into this admirable, heroic figure, at least in appearance, and the people ate it up.” – QualityLogoProducts

It was Thomas Edison’s savvy control over media that caused so many budding scientists to reach out to Thomas Edison and allowed him to steal the inventions of so many people. Thomas Edison has all of these people working in his lab (even Henry Ford worked for Edison). Still, when it came to taking credit, it was all Thomas Edison, only Thomas Edison was quoted, only Thomas Edison’s name appeared on patents. This was fake. Thomas Edison was not without his talents. For example, he was a fantastic “packager” of innovation, but he was not himself an innovator. Instead this was a role that he played for the media.

Although it is essential to point out that taking IP from others, and even the credit is the basic model of companies that deal with IP under the work for hire contracts. This, along with exaggerating the IP that one creates is a common feature of private companies. What is curious is that it is allowed for not only the company to claim the IP, but also for them to claim the credit.

Thomas Edison was presented as the actual person doing the work of invention. This was a media construction. Edison was a promoter posing as an inventor. This might have been the first time he held that lightbulb outside of a photo opportunity that week. Edison had a large pool of low paid employees who were doing the actual work. Let us see Telsa’s view of Edison’s scientific mind. 

““His [Thomas Edison] method was inefficient in the extreme, for an immense ground had to be covered to get anything at all unless blind chance intervened and, at first, I was almost a sorry witness of his doings, knowing that just a little theory and calculation would have saved him 90 per cent of the labor. But he had a veritable contempt for book learning and mathematical knowledge, trusting himself entirely to his inventor’s instinct and practical American sense. In view of this, the truly prodigious amount of his actual accomplishments is little short of a miracle.

“Edison was by far the most successful and, probably, the last exponent of the purely empirical method of investigation. Everything he achieved was the result of persistent trials and experiments often performed at random but always attesting extraordinary vigor and resource. Starting from a few known elements, he would make their combinations and permutations, tabulate them and run through the whole list, completing test after test with incredible rapidity until he obtained a clue. His mind was dominated by one idea, to leave no stone unturned, to exhaust every possibility.” ” ― Nikola Tesla

It should be noted that very few inventors would have had the funding and workforce to test so many permutations. Edison’s lab did have a value, which was to refine the inventions of others. This is the general problem with innovation; those with the financial backing are able to take advantage of those that lack the resources.

In the present day, intellectual property attorneys, the cost of litigation, and the need that individuals have for employment all combine to constantly move inventions and innovations from the actual creators to those with more financial resources. History shows that those with more wealth have a strong proclivity to steal intellectual property from those with less wealth. Any person who is reading this and who creates innovations should expect that someone with more resources will attempt to take their intellectual property from them—the better the intellectual property, the stronger the likelihood that this will occur. We have met several people in our professional experience who generally believe that IP should be stolen from their inventors by any means necessary.

Let us move to our second example.

Elizabeth Holmes of Theranos

Elizabeth Holmes named her blood testing device Edison, which was, of course, a nod to Thomas Edison. She also was a big fan of Steve Jobs, another promoter who was more known for his marketing and image making savvy than his technology knowledge. For Elizabeth Holmes’s skill set, Holmes picked her inspirational icons well.

Elizabeth Holmes is now known as a fraud. Still, for over ten years, Elizabeth Holmes raised $900 million through mostly the strength of her vision, her personality, her connections, and her story.

How to Make Zero Progress After 13 Years and $900 Million: Start With Not Knowing Anything

Theranos is an interesting case study in that the company made zero progress towards anything because the original design objectives did not make any sense. This is because Elizabeth had only completed a few college courses in biology before starting Theranos; she did not know enough to know what she did not know.

There are specific reasons why the current blood analysis system is set up as it is, with blood drawn from the vein rather than from a fingerprick. If Elizabeth had studied the topic before starting her company, she would have figured out the reasons.

The entire story around Theranos was fake. Elizabeth Holmes did not have any knowledge to accomplish what she intended she said she would accomplish. Once she began running the company, she did no technical work on Edison but simply hired people with technical training to perform what was an impossible goal. However, if her employees had somehow succeeded in doing 100% of the work to get Edison to work, there is little doubt that Holmes would have taken full credit for the accomplishment and media outlets would have supported her in her claim. 

It is easy to be optimistic when you don’t know the subject matter. 

Elizabeth Holmes placed her name on a patent in 2003 that it is now widely thought should never have been granted, as is pointed out by the Above the Law.

‘“Holmes’s 2003 application was not a ‘real’ invention in any meaningful sense . . . Indeed, it’s fair to say that Holmes’s first patent application was little more than aspirational science fiction written by an eager undergraduate.” Nazer goes on to note that the patent examiner for one of Holmes’s patents (U.S. Patent No. 7,291,497) did review it closely (for technical issues), but “[w]hat the examiner did not do . . . was ask whether Holmes’s ‘invention’ actually worked.”  Holmes was granted a patent for an idea, but not one that could actually be practiced.” Unfortunately, the patent examination system in the United States is overburdened and under-resourced. As I noted previously, “USPTO today is overwhelmed with patent applications and, as a result, patent examiners do not have adequate time or resources to thoroughly examine the applications. The agency receives more than 600,000 patent applications per year and patent holders are constantly pressuring for quicker deliberation in approving their applications . . . Because of the high volume of applications an examiner must process . . . it has been estimated that 70 percent of examiners have less time than necessary to thoroughly complete an examination.” Not only do patent examiners have inadequate time to determine whether prior art exists (remember: patents must reach a “novelty” threshold), but they certainly aren’t equipped to determine whether the invention actually works (meeting a “utility” requirement that the invention is useful and an “enablement” requirement that would allow a person of ordinary skill in the art to be able to build and use the invention; this is part of the patent bargain that grants a limited-time monopoly, but ultimately serves the public good).”

And this following quotation from Ars Technica is genuinely jaw-dropping.

“The USPTO generally does a terrible job of ensuring that applications meet the utility and enablement standards. In practice, unless an application claims an obviously impossible device (like a perpetual motion machine), the examiner will not question whether it works. To some extent, this is understandable. Examiners only have a few hours to review each application, and they can hardly be expected to run complex experiments to check the applicants’ claims. But this practice can lead to serious errors.

Yet more than a decade after Holmes’ first patent application, Theranos had still not managed to build a reliable blood-testing device. By then the USPTO had granted it hundreds of patents. Holmes had been constructing a fantasy world from the minute she started writing her first application, and the agency was perfectly happy to play along.”

How the US’s Broken Patent System (in part) Allowed Elizabeth Holmes to Start Theranos

That patent was used to trick investors, along with Elizabeth Holmes’s other skills in persuasion, to investing in Theranos. The assumption was that a patent from the US patent office had been investigated. But as explained, this was a faulty assumption. And Theranos an example of many people who did not do sufficient research before they invested or repeated what Elizabeth Holmes said to them. Theranos received investments from a wide array of powerful individuals ranging from Rupert Murdock to Larry Ellison.

There are several commonalities that we can see between Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes.

  1. Exaggerating their role in the technical work of invention.
  2. A corresponding high degree of reliance upon uncredited workers who do the actual work.
  3. A strong ability to obtain media coverage.

In terms of the environment, there is another clear parallel which applies to both Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes even though they were separated by roughly 130 years. Even though the media systems in the late 1800s, an environment dominated by print media and with no television or Internet, was quite different from the media environment of the 2010s.

  1. Media entities were looking for a story that oversimplifies the innovation process and centralizes it to a single person. It should be noted that both Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes were able to pull this off without any education in their fields (although Elizabeth Holmes had the prestige of having dropped out of Stanford).
  2. Media entities that do an insufficient amount of fact-checking.
  3. Media entities that quickly referred to other media entities, assuming that they had performed the background research, and therefore they did not have to.

The separation of these two individuals by such a long period indicates to us that this is a constant feature of our media system.

And now we turn to Hasso Plattner.

Hasso Plattner

We have spent hundreds of hours analyzing the writing of Hasso Plattner, his books, comments on blogs, his SAPPHIRE videos, and so on. And from this analysis, we have found some interesting parallels to Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes.

Through our analysis of various SAP topics, we have repeatedly run into inaccurate features around Hasso Plattner. It is impossible to separate Hasso Plattner from SAP. SAP put significant resources into promotion Hasso Plattner. SAP created a false backstory around HANA as we covered in the article Did Hasso Plattner and His Ph.D. Students Invent HANA? SAP would have to have known that this story was made up. Hasso Plattner is repeatedly introduced as a “Dr. Hasso Plattner” even though SAP certainly knows that Hasso Plattner only has honorary doctorates as we covered in Does SAP’s Hasso Plattner Have a Ph.D.?

Hasso has used his phony professorship at an institute called the Hasso Plattner Institute he started on the campus of the University of Potsdam in Germany to claim that he is “unbiased” in his claims around HANA, as can be seen from the following quotation.

“please stick to the facts and be willing to accept new insights.

i wrote this this blog as a professor of computer science at the university of potsdam and as an adviser in the sap hana project. i am not an employee of sap any more.

any comments are welcome. -hasso plattner”

  • Hasso wrote this comment and claimed that he no longer has any connection to or any of his wealth tied up in SAP. Hasso is now completely independent of SAP, and the HPI is not heavily invested in the HANA storyline?
  • Secondly, how is Hasso Plattner, a professor of computer science anywhere? Hasso has no undergraduate or graduate degree in computer science.

Hasso and HANA

HANA demonstrated Hasso Plattner’s lack of technical expertise. Hasso’s books such as “The In Memory Revolution.”

Hasso made enormous errors when “designing HANA.” 

  • HANA was initially designed to have no row oriented tables, and then in SPS08, suddenly what SAP said were not needed (row oriented tables) were added to HANA as we covered in the article How Accurate Was John Appleby on HANA SPS08?
  • Hasso, for some reason, thought databases could be made zero latency.
  • Hasso thought that all data could or should be loaded into memory, even though only a small fraction of data within a database is usually processed at any one time. Hasso missed the fact that loading such large amounts of data into memory, lead the processor to spike and become overcapacity as we covered in the article How HANA Takes 30 to 40 Times the Memory of Other Databases.

The list of design errors made by Hasso on HANA is their article. Still, as with Elizabeth Holmes, Hasso never put the work into sufficiently study databases to understand what was possible. Like Elizabeth Holmes, he was a promoter, who was pretending to be an inventor.

Hasso and ERP

Hasso Plattner and SAP have expanded into many software categories since the late 1990s, but SAP has not been effective in developing applications in any of them. SAP’s most popular internally developed application outside of its flagship ERP system is BW or the business warehouse. However, it is one of our lowest rated applications as we covered in the article Could SAP DP or BW Survive as Independent Products from SAP?

The common idea is that SAP may have inferior products outside of their ERP system, but their ERP system is very “solid.” However, there is a problem with this storyline as well. When we reviewed the academic literature on the ROI of ERP systems, we found that for decades academic studies have not been able to find any ROI on ERP systems. We cover this topic in detail in the book The Real Story Book on ERP. And SAP has the most expensive ERP implementations in the industry. For more information, see our article How to Understand The High TCO and Low ROI of ERP. Because of this high average cost of SAP ERP implementations, this means that in the vast majority of cases, SAP customers lost money from their SAP ERP implementations. The information regarding the lack of ROI from ERP systems is publicly available. Yet, there has been no financial incentive to inform buyers of this reality, because the industry, which is made up of vendors, consulting firms, IT analysts and media entities are financially incentivized to continue to push ERP systems.

But the situation is worse than this.

The reason is that by implementing SAP ERP systems, SAP customers often ended up purchasing other systems that connected to the ERP system that was always a step down from the ERP system. And the ROI from those connected systems (BW, APO, MDM, PLM, etc..) were significantly negative. This means that every customer that purchased SAP was worse off than if they had never obtained anything from SAP.


Like Thomas Edison and Elizabeth Holmes, Hasso Plattner is not an innovator. He is a promoter who has been positioned by SAP as a person of substance when he isn’t. SAP has done this because it fits within the media’s interest in finding “one person” who they can say is the brains behind a company.

Hasso Plattner significantly reduced his credibility with us, the more we analyzed his writing over the years. Hasso not only can’t write, but he is also incapable of writing in a structured manner. He is also quite mentally lazy and does not research the items he speaks about before he speaks or writes.

All of this means that Hasso Plattner has been visiting companies and has made impressions on people based upon his fame, and people have been looking for answers from a person who does not have any. He is not what SAP says he is, what the media says he is, or what SAP resources or what executives think he is. What Hasso Plattner is, is a highly effective promoter. But his ability to effectively promote is based upon a false background as to his technical knowledge.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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Should Brightwork Research & Analysis Sell Out to SAP?

Executive Summary

  • It has been proposed that SAP should not be critiqued and that all information about SAP should come from SAP funded sources.
  • We ask the question if readers prefer that we sell out to SAP.


Our last article on HANA titled SAP’s Layoffs, and a Brightwork Warning on HANA created quite a tizzy in the SAP community. With many SAP resources preferring if it has not been written. In this article, we discuss some of the input we received and then open the question of selling out to SAP to a poll that readers can voice their views.

The Consulting, IT Media and Analyst Landscape

In terms of providers of information on SAP, nearly all entities that provide information on SAP receive financial benefits from SAP. In the consulting sphere, this is well known and controls the data or “advice” offered to customers. In the IT media space, through advertisement and paid placement controls, the vast majority of entities, as we covered in How to Best Understand Control of the SAP on IT Media.

In the IT analyst space, both Gartner and Forrester and directly paid by SAP, and most of the other analysts are also paid by SAP, and others both paid and offered up lucrative advisement contracts to the large SAP customer base. This has produced typically forecastable compliant content. It is perhaps the primary reason SAP can distribute so much false information about their products to the market.

The best way to make money in the SAP market is to align with SAP and to deceive your readers or customers.

The Problem with Brightwork Research & Analysis

Our primary problem is that we don’t take income from vendors, including SAP, and the second problem is we know SAP quite well, having worked in SAP for decades and producing the most research on SAP. A final problem is that follow a research approach that means we have to follow the evidence down to its conclusion, without worrying about who we contradict or whose feelings might be hurt. This puts us at odds with nearly all of the information providers in the space. And it is why we are not on the approved SAP list of analyst firms that IT media can contact as we covered in How to Become an Approved Analyst for SAP?

Becoming a passive repeater is profitable. Its how most of the information providing entities in SAP make their money. 

Becoming SAP’s Passive Repeater

The best way for Brightwork Research & Analysis to make money is to solicit SAP for funding and become a repeater for their marketing department. This would not only bring in money (we think, we have not reached out to SAP to see what we could get from them, but we do know they pay other information providers in the space), but it would also reduce our work effort. As can be seen from other analysts and media entities that are also paid by SAP, as well as reviewing the SAP consulting company websites, it means being able to drop almost all thought altogether. All we need to do is republish SAP’s material on our site — so SAP provides the content!

We covered the topic of how little work ASUG seems to do in writing articles about SAP in the article How ASUG Lost its Way and Sold Out to SAP.

The trick is like ASUG, and Forrester and Gartner will be to pretend that the funding by SAP has nothing to do with our SAP marketing-driven content. We can even set up a fake ombudsman as has Gartner as we covered in What is the Difference Between the Gartner Ombudsman and Disclosure.

The benefits should be obvious to anyone.

100% Control Over Information Provided Entities

The message we are getting from many sources that are financially connected to SAP is that there should not be any providers of information on SAP unless that source is financially connected to SAP. And this is also the best way to monetize the research effort that goes into our content (in addition to reducing the research effort considerably.)

Your Chance to Tell Us Your View

So this is where we need the advice of readers as to what to do. Please fill out the poll, which can let us know what you think we should do!

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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Its Official, If You Work for SAP Its Ok to Lie About Having a PhD

Executive Summary

  • Hasso Plattner has been lying about his Ph.D. for decades.
  • However, according to one SAP resource, lying about one’s Ph.D. is not a bad thing.


In our article, Does Hasso Plattner Have a Ph.D.?, we outlined the fact that Hasso’s PhDs are honorary, but are presented as real.

Curiously, we received pushback on this from an SAP consultant.

“You really must have run out of real arguments against SAP in what feels what a personal vendetta? It’s quite simple: If you earn a Doctorate (incl h.c.) from an accredited university, then, in Germany, you can chose to add it to your ID/passport. Many people do and use it as if part of the name -some say not to do so would be uncourteous to the organisation you received an hc from. It is as outdated as are the Sirs in Britain or the bowing angle corresponding to social hierarchy in Japan and if you ask me, whether it adds value: certainly not. There are much higher achievements than Dr. hc or PhD that don’t get the same attention. But it is legal, not fishy at all and in line with normal custom. But really, it’s all a non-issue: someone uses an old fashioned pre-fix to his name. He never claimed to be something he isn’t. If some people thought he has a real PhD, they didn’t buy his software for this reason and he was long past the point, where his academic achievement mattered for career progression. So, what’s the fuzz? On his hon Professorship: he was a visiting professor at my Uni – we learned more from him than from any of the ivory tower products with PhD. Nothing fake about this – he really did it.” – Sven Ringling

Ding Ding Ding!

Sven Ringling gets our Golden Pinocchio Award.


What Sven leaves out of the analysis is why Hasso did it. If it made no difference, why did Hasso present a fictitious Ph.D. as real? No one would do that as honorary doctorates aren’t relevant. He did it for one reason, to borrow from the authority of academia. 

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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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.” 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 to 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 Ph.D. listed. And it is stated as such on his profile, but unless you speak German, most people will not catch it.

H. c mult. translates in English to honorary doctorate, with “mult” standing for multiple honorary doctorates. Therefore Hasso has not only one honorary doctorate but two honorary doctorates. The detail is explained in this section, where it states that he was awarded “honorary doctorates.” But at the end of the profile, it becomes confusing because it says he is a professor at the Hasso Plattner Institute. How can he be a professor if he has no Ph.D.? Well, one way is to simply own the school (the HPI is a small branch on the University of Potsdam campus).

Interestingly, I don’t recall anyone observing that Hasso did not have a P.h.D. I was once writing a paper for a company, and I wrote “Hasso Plattner” and was told that I needed to change it to “Dr. Hasso Plattner” because “if he earned the degree, then you have to state it.” But how about if the degree is “honorary.”

Well then obviously not.

Both Meryl Streep and Oprah Winfrey have four honorary degrees (so twice as many as Hasso), but I don’t recall anyone referring to Meryl Streep as Prof. Dr. h.c. mult Meryl Streep or Prof. Dr. h.c. mult Oprah Winfrey. This should not need to be explained, but you are not supposed to add what amounts to fake degrees to your profile in an attempt to trick people.

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

Now lets us discuss the honorary Ph.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 required with honorary Ph.Ds. That is, you are not supposed to pretend it is a real Ph.D. They are a joke, Ph.D. Again, honorary Ph.Ds are given to entice celebrities to provide a commencement ceremony speech. A real P.h.D can take four years to attain and only about 1 out of 140 people (in the US at least) to achieve an undergraduate degree ever attain a Ph.D.

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

However, how can a person who has never completed a Ph.D. program start up a pseudo-mini-university? It’s 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. The University of Potsdam benefits from having the Hasso Plattner Institute on its campus. Was this one of the motivating factors in conferring an honorary Ph.D. to Hasso Plattner?

A Fictitious Backstory from a Fictitious Ph.D.?

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

With HANA Hasso showed how lacking in studiousness he was, as one of the major problems with HANA has been that it was designed in great part by Hasso Plattner, and he did not know what he was doing. This constant overestimation of knowledge is consistent with a person who fakes academic credentials.

Later, Hasso 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 established, 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. Once again, having a lot of cash does not translate into knowledge or ability.

Falsified Academic Authority

Hasso and SAP used his honorary degrees to communicate false authority for over a decade and a half. As a result, almost no one knows Hasso is not a Ph.D.

When My Suspicious About Hasso Were First Triggered

  • I have been reading and analyzing Hasso Plattner’s writing and quotations for years, and find that he always lies and constantly pivots between topics which demonstrates an unstructured mind.
  • This is the last person who would make a good Ph.D. candidate. This is the writing of a sales promoter, not a scientist.
  • 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. Hasso’s books are punishing to get through because they are filled with so many inaccuracies, and they are less “books” then lengthy sales pitches.

Ding Ding Ding

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


This honorary Ph.D. issue is another case of both Hasso and SAP using deception to trick customers into thinking that there is some excellent mind behind SAP. It shows how little Hasso and SAP care about what is true. And the trick worked. It worked on me. I never thought to look up Hasso Plattner’s educational credentials.

The Necessity of Fact Checking

We ask a question that anyone working in enterprise software should ask.

Should decisions be made based on sales information from 100% financially biased parties like consulting firms, IT analysts, and vendors to companies that do not specialize in fact-checking?

If the answer is “No,” then perhaps there should be a change to the present approach to IT decision making.

In a market where inaccurate information is commonplace, our conclusion from our research is that software project problems and failures correlate to a lack of fact checking of the claims made by vendors and consulting firms. If you are worried that you don’t have the real story from your current sources, we offer the solution.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

Search Our Other Hasso Plattner Content


How to Understand Why SAP Mystifies Topics

Executive Summary

  • SAP shows a pattern of mystifying topics. Mystifying topics is the exact opposite of explaining topics to an audience.
  • This is deliberate and fits into how SAP markets to customers.


At Brightwork Research & Analysis, we have repeatedly shown that SAP provides false information to customers as part of standard practice. Readers can see our research into SAP’s accuracy in the research article A Study into SAP’s Accuracy.

In this article, we will explain why SAP consistently chooses to mystify topics and how it fits into the overall SAP sales and marketing approach.

The Process of Mystifying Areas

SAP mystifies things, precisely to “pull one over on people.” That is why, after listening to SAP, you know less than when you started.


This video is a perfect example of how SAP will take a subject, and through adding false information and false claims, leave the recipient of the message with not only a misimpression of SAP’s accomplishments and offering in an area, but a misimpression of the overall area! SAP’s information can be considered counter-educational. It intends to promote a false understanding of the part of the message recipient. 

The Hypnotic Properties of Inscrutable Words

If an entity can use a term you do not know and keep that term mystical, then it gives that entity power over you. SAP will often combine multiple buzzwords into a single sentence or throughout a paragraph with the intent of finding one that the listener does not know.

Hasso Plattner does this very clearly in his books. Hasso Plattner books are chocked full of exaggerated claims. They are also exhausting to read because of their non-stop claims and the fact that it will make claims in so many areas that it is challenging to keep up. And actually, that is the whole point. The claims in a book like this would require a person to set aside over a month, potentially two to validate the claims, which would also be required looking up a vast amount of terminology. Hasso knows that people do not have time to do this, so you are always one step behind Hasso’s claims. 

Being one of the few entities having performed a great deal of research into Hasso Plattner’s claims, we can say with confidence that virtually none of the things that Hasso says ever end up coming true. However, it should be understood that there is no financial reason for other entities to perform this research. It has to be done for reasons of curiosity, as there is very little of a financial market for fact-checking the claims of software vendors. Media entities don’t do it (preferring a steady stream of vendor cash), and consulting companies don’t do it (they are partners with the vendors!). Therefore the only financial market exists on the other side of the equation, which is repeating claims made by software vendors. And because there is no real financial market, it will typically not get done.

SAP’s Army of Enablers

If a normal process of validation or fact checking occurred, Hasso Plattner would have no credibility left as he has been doing this for decades. However, because SAP pays so many media entities and the consulting companies that specialize in SAP are “in on it” and repeat these falsehoods, there is almost no one with any interest in calling out Hasso Plattner. Even competing vendors, typically have some partnership with SAP that contractually prevents them from criticizing SAP. I sometimes talk to vendors that will repeat back false things to me about SAP. So SAP’s marketing should be viewed as a 360 degrees falsehood machine, impacting both customers and vendors and other parties.

Hasso’s intent is to overwhelm the audience with information that is difficult for them to validate. Hasso Plattner has a Ph.D., but he does not behave as a Ph.D. Instead, his statements are more similar to a well-known circus promoter whose first initials are “P.T.” However, Ph.D.’s are not supposed to be used to provide an aura of credibility for a person to lie. Our view is that anyone who has a Ph.D. but shows no concern for what is true, no longer truly has one. 

The Opposite of the Richard Feynman Technique of Learning

Richard Feynman, the great physicist, talks about how complicated words are also used to disguise our lack of understanding. This is covered in the following quote:

“There are two types of knowledge and most of us focus on the wrong one. The first type of knowledge focuses on knowing the name of something. The second focuses on knowing something. These are not the same thing. The famous Nobel winning physicist Richard Feynman understood the difference between knowing something and knowing the name of something and it’s one of the most important reasons for his success. In fact, he created a formula for learning that ensured he understood something better than everyone else.

A lot of people tend to use complicated vocabulary and jargon to mask when they don’t understand something. The problem is we only fool ourselves because we don’t know that we don’t understand. Also, using jargon conceals our misunderstanding from those around us.”

Step 1: Try to explain the concept in simple terms without jargon.

Step 2: This is invaluable feedback because you’ve discovered the edge of your knowledge. Competence knows the limit of your abilities, and you’ve just identified one!

Step 3: Now you have a set of hand-crafted notes. Review them to make sure you didn’t mistakenly borrow any of the jargon from the source material.”


SAP actively attempts to confuse its customers. This allows SAP to control the impression of what SAP offers, and it presents things to customers that SAP has never accomplished or been involved in. As new buzzwords come along, SAP will grab hold of them, and then migrate previous unfulfilled promises to the latest buzzwords. All of this is designed to keep customers maximally confused and less able to fact check SAP’s statements.

Financial Disclosure

Financial Bias Disclosure

Neither this article nor any other article on the Brightwork website is paid for by a software vendor, including Oracle, SAP or their competitors. As part of our commitment to publishing independent, unbiased research; no paid media placements, commissions or incentives of any nature are allowed.

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