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Autodesk CEO Carl Bass Steps Down

Today Autodesk, Inc. announced that Carl Bass will step down as president and chief executive officer, effective tomorrow. The company’s 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.

Andrew Anagnost, senior vice president and chief marketing officer will act as interim co-CEOs. Images courtesy of Autodesk.

Amar Hanspal (left), senior vice president and chief product officer, and Andrew Anagnost, senior vice president and chief marketing officer will act as interim co-CEOs. Images courtesy of Autodesk.

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. Bass will remain on staff as a special adviser to the company in support of the transition to a new CEO, the company says. He will continue to sit on the Autodesk board of directors and will be nominated for re-election at the 2017 annual meeting of shareholders. Crawford W. Beveridge will remain non-executive chairman of the board.

In a blog post, Bass wrote:

For the last couple of years, I’ve been having discussions with the board about stepping down as CEO, and today we announced that I will do so. I’m pleased that I will be leaving the company in Amar and Andrew’s capable hands while the board searches for a new CEO. I know they’ll do a great job at holding down the fort—and I’ll be honored if either is chosen to be the next CEO. I’ll continue to serve on the Autodesk board and I will be here to help them and the board through the transition.

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.

Bass went on to write that he will be spending more time in the shop with his robots.

Carl Bass. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

Carl Bass. Image courtesy of Autodesk.

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.

“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 in a press release. “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.

Autodesk also announced a new agreement between Autodesk and Sachem Head Capital Management LP. 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.

When Sachem Head began acquiring Autodesk 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, according to the company. The executive search firm Egon Zehnder has been retained to assist in the CEO search.

According to the company, the board will begin a search for a new independent director candidate, who will join when Ferguson and Clarke step down, which will occur at the 2017 annual meeting or the appointment of a new CEO, whichever comes later.

For more information, visit Autodesk.

Sources: Press materials received from the company and additional information gleaned from the company’s website.

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