Instant Analysis: Autodesk Makes Its Interim CEO Permanent

Andrew Anagnost becomes the company's leader.

Eric Volkman
Eric Volkman
Jun 22, 2017 at 9:41AM
Technology and Telecom

What happened

Autodesk (NASDAQ:ADSK) has firmed up its C-suite lineup. The design-software specialist announced that it has picked Andrew Anagnost as its new permanent CEO and president. Anagnost had been serving as the company's interim co-CEO -- along with Amar Hanspal, who is leaving the company -- and chief marketing officer. He's also been granted a seat on the board of directors. All moves are effective immediately.

Anagnost is a longtime Autodesk veteran, having joined the company in 1997. Among other positions, he has been senior vice president of business strategy and marketing.

In the press release heralding the appointment, the company's chairman, Crawford Beveridge, said Anagnost "has been instrumental in the development and execution of Autodesk's successful business model transition, and with his leadership, we are confident that our move to the cloud and subscription will continue to be successful."

Autodesk's AutoCAD program, as seen on a computer screen, a tablet, and a phone.

Image source: Autodesk.

Does it matter?

Naming Anagnost the permanent CEO is an encouraging development, indicating that Autodesk's leadership situation has settled down. That wasn't quite the case earlier this year, when previous CEO Carl Bass resigned in the wake of a tussle with activist investors Sachem Head Capital Management and Eminence Capital. Bass' resignation was matched by the departure of two Sachem affiliates from Autodesk's board of directors. Anagnost has filled one of those seats.

Before that, Autodesk reached a settlement with Sachem and Eminence, which resulted in Sachem's gaining a total of three board seats. These days, one Sachem affiliate, Richard Hill, remains.

Anagnost will certainly have his work cut out for him going forward. Although Autodesk's stock was a highflier earlier this year, largely because of its success in selling software subscriptions, it will have to ensure it can provide enough value to keep those subscriptions alive. In addition, the company has posted three consecutive quarters of bottom-line losses and is forecasting only modest revenue growth for this fiscal year. The stock might start diving earthward if Autodesk can't improve on those two line items.