News about changes in management at 3D printing companies and related enterprises continues in early 2017 with the announcement that Autodesk’s CEO Carl Bass will step down. The news comes as hedge funds have taken an increasingly important role at the company and is accompanied by a change in executive board membership.

As 3D Printing Industry previously reported Autodesk’s loss widened when the company last reported financial results.

Change in revenue model

According to the the U.S. Software company,

The board has instituted a CEO search to consider candidates inside and outside Autodesk and has formed an Interim Office of the Chief Executive to oversee the company’s day-to-day operations. Bass will remain on staff as a special advisor to the company in support of the transition to a new CEO. He will continue to sit on the Autodesk board of directors and will be nominated for reelection at the 2017 annual meeting of shareholders. Crawford W. Beveridge will remain non-executive chairman of the board. 

Under Carl Bass Autodesk has plotted an interesting and often exciting course. Bass has long been an advocate of projects that push the boundaries of 3D design and also 3D printing.

3D Printing Industry has followed Project Escher into what is now the Titan Robotics project. We have also reported on how the Autodesk 123D suite of apps will now be available through the software subscription model taken on by the company during the last year.

Autodesk's Project Escher

Autodesk’s Project Escher

Speaking about the news that Carl Bass will step down as CEO, non-executive director Beveridge said, “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.” Beveridge adds,

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 of 3D design and engineering software.

Crawford Beveridge Photo by Allan Milligan

Crawford Beveridge Photo by Allan Milligan

Pressure from activist hedge fund

As 3D Printing Industry previously reported in October, hedge funds have been slowly building a stake in Autodesk. Last year we reported on how $16 billion hedge fund Soroban Capital Partners LP had doubled their stake in the company. At the time this news was not welcomed by some in the 3D printing community who feared that hedge fund interest would be detrimental to the long term success of the company.

Today’s news about Autodesk is accompanied by information that Sachem Head Capital Management LP and Autodesk have reached an agreement about board membership. According to an Autodesk spokesperson,

The agreement calls for two of Sachem Head’s 2016 director nominees, Scott Ferguson and Jeff Clarke, to resign from the board of directors. In addition, Sachem Head Capital has agreed to continue until June 2018 their earlier standstill and voting agreement provisions. 

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass on stage at the Real2015 conference in San Francisco. Image Credit- Daniel Terdiman:VentureBeat

Autodesk CEO Carl Bass on stage at the Real2015 conference in San Francisco. Image Credit- Daniel Terdiman:VentureBeat

Speaking about the arrangements for transition an Autodesk spokesperson said,

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.

According to sources, Bass and Autodesk’s board “began discussing a potential CEO transition more than 18 months ago as part of the board’s longstanding CEO succession planning process.” The company continued to add

 When Sachem Head began acquiring company stock in late 2015, Bass and the board put discussions regarding a permanent successor on hold, determining that stable leadership was important to help Autodesk navigate investor negotiations while successfully advancing its transition to cloud-based technologies and a subscription-only business model. Given the new agreement with Sachem Head, Bass and the board have decided that this is the right time to identify the individual that will lead Autodesk’s next stage of growth. The executive search firm Egon Zehnder has been retained to assist in the CEO search.

3D Printing Industry will bring you more news about Autodesk as we have it.

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Featured image show Carl Bass in his workshop at Autodesk. Photo via: Autodesk blogs

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