Autodesk, Inc., has announced that its longstanding CEO, Carl Bass, has decided to step down as president and chief executive officer, effective 8 February 2017 (today). The company’s board has instituted an executive search to replace Bass and has also formed an Interim Office of the Chief Executive.
The news of this departure comes just one day before Carl Bass’ last day heading one of the world’s largest design and engineering software companies. Bass will keep his board of directors seat and will remain on staff as a special advisor to the company. Crawford W. Beveridge will remain non-executive chairman of the board.
“I’ve worked with Carl through his tenure as CEO of Autodesk, and I’ve always valued his focus and vision, as well as his rare combination of business and technical expertise,” said Beveridge. “We have seen exponential growth in the last decade, both in the business and in Autodesk’s market opportunity. Carl has always been a driven and passionate change agent for the company, and under his direction, Autodesk has transformed from a 2D design company into the worldwide leader in 3D design and engineering software.”
The Wall Street Journal explains that Bass’s reasons for stepping down have to do with timing and wishing to spend more time on personal goals. Bass has both a business and technical background and has championed the use of mobile devices and the cloud, particularly Apple’s iPad and iOS platform.
A passionate woodwork and metalworker Bass is apparently devoted to his personal design and build projects in his workshop and is also interested in robotics.
Other Factors and Details
There is a significant board of director move playing out as a backstory to this development. Autodesk also announced a new agreement between Autodesk and Sachem Head Capital Management LP (‘Sachem Head’). That agreement calls for the resignation of two board members associated with Sachem Head—Scott Ferguson and Jeff Clarke.
Said Ferguson, “Since joining the board, I have been impressed with Carl’s vision and leadership. I am confident that through this transition, we will identify a leader who can further propel the company’s progress and drive Autodesk’s growth and value creation well into the future.”
The board will begin a search for a new independent director candidate, who will join when Ferguson and Clarke step down, which will occur on the later of the 2017 annual meeting or the appointment of a new CEO.
Hanspal and Anagnost To Lead
To ensure Autodesk’s continued focus on business performance and technological innovation, the board has formed an Interim Office of the Chief Executive to oversee the company’s day-to-day operations during the transition. The Interim Office of the Chief Executive will be headed by Amar Hanspal, senior vice president and chief product officer, and Andrew Anagnost, senior vice president and chief marketing officer as interim co-chief executive officers.
Hanspal joined Autodesk in 1987 and has held various product leadership, marketing and customer success roles at the company. He led Autodesk’s technology shift to the cloud platforms and to software as a service, as well as investment in construction and manufacturing growth opportunities, and currently leads the company’s worldwide product development organization. Anagnost began his career in aeronautical engineering at Lockheed Martin Aeronautics. He joined Autodesk in 1997 and has held various marketing, product management and product development roles. He led the company’s transition to an all-subscription business model, and now also oversees all of marketing and business strategy for Autodesk.
To learn more you can read the full press release by Autodesk here.