This is right out of the blue. As of today, Carl Bass is no longer CEO of Autodesk. His 10-year stint as the San Fransisco-based company’s leader ends after transitioning the company to the cloud and subscription based product offerings, launching an open hardware platform, overseeing 30+ acquisitions and building Pier 9 workshop to help drive and nurture the passion behind it all.

Back in 2006 when Carl took over as CEO of Autodesk, he was named by then-CEO Carol Bartz as her replacement. Carl’s departure sees no new CEO named. Only that day-to-day operations will be overseen 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. This may seem odd, but was a decision reached by the Autodesk board of directors, on which Carl will still be serving with a nomination for re-election to the board at the 2017 annual meeting of shareholders.

A letter to employees was published on Autodesk’s In the Fold blog, where Carl thanked everyone from Mrs. Bartz and shareholders to partners, customers and employees. He left everyone with the few words you may have heard him mention over the years, words he used to describe Autodesk and, I think if you look deeper, his own role in what they achieved.

“When I first became CEO, people asked how I wanted to define Autodesk and I often answered somewhat cryptically, ‘great, good and important.’ In my mind, great companies are defined, first and foremost, by their financial performance. Good companies are defined by their values and culture and how they treat their employees, their customers and the communities in which they do business. And important companies make a real difference in the world.”

He left a lot to the imagination with no detail of his plans from this day on, except to imply he’ll be spending plenty of time at his workshop in Berkeley, California. I don’t quite blame him.

“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.”

I asked Carl what he’s working on first. He says, “The first thing I’m working on is using machine learning to figure out how to drive my son’s go kart autonomously. It’s a very cool project in which we’re training it with data coming out of a video game we built. Also, been finishing up the renovation of my metal shop and building lots of stuff for the shop including this very cool folded metal staircase (fusion sheet metal showed up just in time).”

Al, Rita, looks like we’ll have to find another CEO for 2AM drinks in Vegas.

Lead Photo Credit: James Martin, CBS


Josh is founder and editor at, founder at Aimsift Inc., and co-founder of EvD Media. He is involved in engineering, design, visualization, the technology making it happen, and the content developed around it. He is a SolidWorks Certified Professional and excels at falling awkwardly.