Roopinder Tara posted on January 05, 2016 – Engineering.com
“People may have said we are like Toyota. Now we are more like Tesla”
Bass is jovially fielding questions from the press along with Jeff Kowalski, Autodesk’s CTO. We are at the end of two days of press meetings at Autodesk University, the company’s annual user meeting that recently took place in Las Vegas. With approximately ten thousand in attendance, it is the biggest gathering of CAD users in the world.
For a couple of years, Bass, with Kowalski at his side, has dispensed with the traditional press conference format. There is no podium; there are no suits and ties, no prepared statements—and no agenda. They banter with the media. CEOs of billion-dollar companies don’t usually meet the press this way—they couldn’t pull it off.
But these two are comfortable, confident… and modest. Autodesk is more than Toyota and Tesla. The company not only provides a dependable ride for all manner of design and engineering professionals, it has also become a showcase for leading-edge technology.
It was not always so. The Autodesk we had at the turn of the century was flirting with being a billion-dollar company—profitable but content to fine-tune the design software it had become famous for, most of it based on AutoCAD. By that time, architects and designers worldwide had embraced AutoCAD. Its user base was in the millions. Its success was self-perpetuating. You would not get fired for buying AutoCAD. And as the company’s then-CEO, Carol Bartz, was fond of saying, “Look around. If God didn’t make it, AutoCAD did.”
Innovation began creeping back into the company about 10 years ago. That was also the time Carl Bass became CEO.
This is not a coincidence.