Carl Bass and Autodesk Vision

Carl Bass and Autodesk Vision

carlbass-autodesk-vision

Sometimes things are happening in a very unexpected way. And the news about Carl Bass stepping down as Autodesk CEO was like that. I was fortunate to get to know Carl during my days at Autodesk. His directness, openness and sense of humor are well known in the industry. Here is the letter Carl send to Autodesk employees – it was published by Scott Sheppard in It’s alive in Lab blog.

I love Autodesk and am immensely proud of what we have created together, but it’s time for me to do something new. Autodesk is doing very well and the financial markets are noticing. Our leadership team is strong, and our strategy is in place to go further and accomplish more than we could have ever imagined when I took over day-to-day operations as COO 14 years ago. Our transition to an all-subscription business model is well underway, we’re enjoying early but strong success in the cloud and we have settled with our activist investors.  Now seems like the right time, for both the company and for me.

I probably wasn’t the only one who was surprised by the news. Josh Mings of Solidsmack posted in his article -Autodesk CEO Carl Bass Steps Down, Spending More Time With His Robots.

This is right out of the blue. As of today, Carl Bass is no longer CEO of Autodesk. His 10-year stint as the San Fransisco-based company’s leader ends after transitioning the company to the cloud and subscription based product offerings, launching an open hardware platform, overseeing 30+ acquisitions and building Pier 9 workshop to help drive and nurture the passion behind it all.

The only thing we know for the moment is that Amar Hanspal, Senior Vice President and Chief Product Officer, and Andrew Anagnost, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, will serve as interim Co-chief Executive Officers. And Carl Bass will still be serving on Autodesk board of directors with a nomination for re-election to the board at the 2017 annual meeting of shareholders.

I’ve been following formation of Autodesk cloud vision since early 2010s. I think Autodesk played of the key roles is promoting and materializing industry cloud PLM strategy for the last 5-7 years. And in many ways it was Carl Bass who standed behind that.

Autodesk will miss Carl Bass vision and leadership. And I look forward to learn who will become the next Autodesk CEO. I wanted to share a small fragment of Carl Bass presentation I captured during Autodesk University 2011. Carl is speaking about future move from file-based to data-driven engineering world, search user experience and linked data.

Engineering software was heavily file-based for the last 30-40 years. But data is a new oil and CAD-PLM vendors will have to learn how to extract the value from data and move from controlling file access and manage revisions only.

What is my conclusion? Carl Bass will be missed. But, for many years working in CAD-PLM industry, I learned that CAD is like Hotel California – You can check-out any time you like, but you can never leave! So, we will see what is next for Carl. Meantime, I look forward to learn more about future changes at Autodesk and what trajectory Autodesk vision and technology will take in the future. Data driven engineering world is still in the future. It gets closer, but we are just at the beginning. New generation of engineers and manufacturing companies are looking how to switch from old file-based analog experience in a digital world. And data-driven experience is the one that will lead the way. Just my thoughts..

Best, Oleg

Want to learn more about PLM? Check out my new PLM Book website.

Disclaimer: I’m co-founder and CEO of openBoM developing cloud based bill of materials and inventory management tool for manufacturing companies, hardware startups and supply chain. My opinion can be unintentionally biased

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  • It was a surprise but not a shock given their issues with activist investors (a bigger surprise for me was that two of those investors will leave the board; I guess they got what they wanted). I will miss him for his straight, sometimes blunt, talk that was always informative, often amusing, and generally on point. I wish him well.

    As for the future? Carl was at Autodesk twice through acquisition so anything could happen.

    Stan Przybylinski
    VP of Research
    CIMdata, Inc.
    Twitter, Skype: smprezbo

  • beyondplm

    Stan, thanks for sharing your thoughts! Is it a hint that Carl maybe going to start something new? Best, Oleg