Autodesk CEO Carl Bass leaves post abruptly

  • Signs for push-out forces
  • After almost eleven years on the job
  • Laud, praise and thanks for Bass
  • Search for a successor

(management-change.com) — San Francisco, California, February 07, 2017 — Carl Bass, chief executive of Autodesk, leaves. It is an abrupt change. As announced by Autodesk, Inc. in a news release and in a regulatory filing published on Tuesday, February 07, 2017, Carl Bass leaves the post as chief executive officer at the 3D software company in a surprising move after almost eleven years on the job, effective February 08, 2017.

It is the end of an era.

Autodesk will undertake a search for a successor.

“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 sudden management change is explained as follows. Autodesk said: “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. 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.”

In a February 2016 earnings call, Bass had characterized activist investors as sport radio hosts who want to be the coach.

“Resignation”

Autodesk said: “On February 6, 2017, Carl Bass tendered his resignation, effective February 8, 2017, as President and Chief Executive Officer of the Company …, but will continue as a member of the Board and will be nominated for reelection at the 2017 annual meeting of shareholders.”

On February 7, 2017, Autodesk also published a letter from Carl Bass on its website.

“I am not leaving to spend more time with my family”

In the letter, Carl Bass further wrote: “I am not leaving to spend more time with my family—that presumes my family wants to spend more time with me. I will, however, be spending more time in my shop with my robots. I also have some other plans and will have more to say on what I’m doing in the next few months.”

Share price rise since February 2016

The change follows a rise in the share price of Autodesk, Inc. since February 2016.

On the job as CEO since 2006

Bass has been the Chief Executive Officer and President of Autodesk, Inc. since May 01, 2006 and served as its Interim Chief Financial Officer from August 14, 2008 to April 26, 2009 and again from August 2014 to November 1, 2014.

Bass co-founded Ithaca Software, which was acquired by Autodesk in 1993.

Since joining the company, he has held several executive positions including chief technology officer and chief operations officer.

Bass serves on the boards of directors of Autodesk, HP Inc., Zendesk Inc. and Planet; on the board of trustees of the Smithsonian’s Cooper-Hewitt National Design Museum, Art Center College of Design, and California College of the Arts; and on the advisory boards of Cornell Computing and Information Science, UC Berkeley School of Information, and UC Berkeley College of Engineering.

He holds a bachelor’s degree in mathematics from Cornell University.

Bass is a maker and spends his spare time building things—from chairs and tables to boats, and most recently, an electric go-kart.

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.

Signs for push-out forces

It is not completely certain what forces eventually triggered Carl Bass’ move.

The Push-out Score™ determined by management-change.com suggests that push-out forces may have contributed to the management change.

Read the full story in the management-change.com report 07.2017 ($).