Autodesk’s search for a new CEO is over. Yesterday, the company announced it is appointing Andrew Anagnost, a veteran of the company, as the new chief.
When Carl Bass decided to retire from Autodesk in February 2017, Andrew Anagnost and Amar Hanspal, two senior VPs, were appointed joint-CEOs for the interim period. At the time, Anagnost was chief marketing officer and Hanspal was chief product officer. Bass remains on the company’s board of directors.
On Anagnost’s appointment, Bass said, “I have worked closely with Andrew over the past 20 years, and I know he will be a great leader for Autodesk. His contributions and dedication to the company, our employees, and customers have been immeasurable.”
Anagnost was part of the executive team that led the company’s migration from perpetual to subscription licensing, and expanded its cloud offerings.
External vs. Internal Candidates
When long-serving CEO Carol Bartz (1992-2006) left Autodesk, the board appointed Carl Bass, the company’s chief operating officer at the time, as CEO. In the announcement, Bartz said, “[Carl] has a deep knowledge of the industry and the business as well as a keen understanding of our customers and the demands they face every day … Carl’s appointment as CEO represents a natural evolution of leadership at Autodesk.”
Autodesk offers a large collection of software to three distinct markets: product design; media & entertainment (M&E); and architecture, construction, and engineering (AEC). Its technology runs deep in many manufacturing firms, movie studios, and global architecture firms. For an outsider recruited to take on an executive role at Autodesk, the learning curve could be steep.
Following Bass’ departure, “The board conducted a robust search and considered all qualified candidates for the position, both internal and external,” said Clay Helm, Autodesk’s PR director. “The board believes Andrew has all the qualities that they were seeking and has the utmost confidence that Andrew is the best person to lead Autodesk into its next stage of growth. The selection of an inside candidate is an affirmation of the company’s core strategy and the board’s commitment to maintaining our position as a leader and an innovator in our field.”
Anagnost’s pre-Autodesk career included leadership roles at Lockheed Aeronautical Systems Company and EXA Corporation. He has completed a doctorate degree at Stanford University and worked at NASA Ames Research Center as an NRC post-doctoral fellow.
Hanspal Leaves Autodesk
As Anagnost takes on a new role, Hanspal signals his departure from Autodesk.
In is open letter published online after his promotion, Anagnost writes, “As excited as I am about this change, today’s news is bittersweet. Regretfully, Amar Hanspal has decided to leave the company. As many of you know, Amar and I have shared countless experiences and tackled great challenges together; I’m truly sad to see him leave.”
During his time at Autodesk, Hanspal circumnavigated through the company’s collaboration solutions division, platform solutions and emerging business group, and information modeling and platform products group.
In his latest role as chief product officer, Hanspal oversaw the R&D initiatives that would shape Autodesk offerings.
“In the interim, Scott Reese, our VP of cloud products, will take over as the acting leader of products,” explained Helm.
For more, watch Anagnost’s video message below: