Autodesk’s stock looks like it fell off the edge. Share prices were down 20% this morning. This after the recent Q3 announcement that the company lost $120 million.
You’ll be feeling bad if you are invested in Autodesk. You’ll be feeling worse if you were one of the 1150 Autodeskers being laid off. They were told last week.
One of them tries to put a brave face. She’s doing fine, she says. She is lifting her spirits with a friend over a salad at a trendy Hayes St. eatery in San Francsico. “But did they have to do it right before Christmas?”
Captain Andrew at the Wheel
The third quarter of FY2018 was like many before it. It was the 10th straight quarter of losses for Autodesk after their dramatic change of business model, from perpetual to term-licensing. But for some reason (was it the layoff?), it triggered the storm.
In the fierceness of a storm, it is hard to keep in mind that calmer waters, a better world, awaits on the other side.
I imagine Carl Bass, CEO of Autodesk until June of this year, hearing Andrew Anagnost’s calls to turn the ship this way or that, finally saying here “You take the wheel’ and stepping aside.
Upon taking the wheel as the new CEO, Andrew has sailed full into the storm. Resolute at the helm, he is clear in his direction. There may be some damage, but the path to take is clear. There is no time to waste, no sugar with the medicine. Users have to wake up and face the storm. Resellers, too. Employees who enjoyed jobs chasing dreams, who forgot their mission, those who grumble on the new direction… over the side they go.
Through the ship is being battered, it hasn’t sprung a leak. The user base is still the biggest paying CAD userbase in the world. Some of the users may be grumbling (they always do) but there is no indication of becoming a mass migration. Autodesk applications are still gold, the currency of the industries they serve, tried and true. User data is safe. The applications keep getting better and no other CAD company has been shown more ability to keep up with fast moving technology. Users understand that Autodesk will be there for them, supplying current needs and needs they have yet to realize. Try as they might, no company has been able to erode Autodesk’s market dominance in a significant way. The foreign firms that have long claimed they can do the same for less are plucking the few users who have jumped off the ship, mad they no longer had a cabin in perpetuity. Bigger CAD firms that have had to realize they can’t lure away Autodesk users, and can only, at best, grow their business alongside.