Amar Hanspal, Andrew Anagnost Are Co-Interim CEOs; Two Directors, Including Head of Activist Investment Firm, to Resign

Declaring the company's transition to an all-cloud and subscription business model "well underway," Autodesk's Carl Bass is stepping down as president and CEO, effective tomorrow. The company said its board of directors has institured a search for new CEO candidates both inside and outside the company. 

A new office has been established to run the company in the meantime, with SVP and Chief Product Officer Amar Naspal and SVP and CMO Andrew Anagnost serving as interim co-CEOs.

"The company's strategy is working, the management team is strong, and it's the right time for me to step aside," Bass said in a prepared statement. "I'm looking forward to my next adventure but will continue working with the company through my role as a board member and am committed to ensuring that the cloud and subscription business model will continue to be successful."

Bass will stay on staff as a special advisor during the CEO transition, the company said, and will be nominated for re-election to the board of directors at the 2017 annual shareholder meeting. Crawford W. Beveridge will stay in his position as non-executive chairman of the board.

Autodesk said discussion of a "potential CEO transition" started more than 18 months ago but was put on hold when activist investment firm Sachem Head Capital Management began acquiring shares in the company. Talks with Sachem Head resulted in the firm's managing partner, Scott Ferguson, joining Autodesk's board of directors, along with Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke and Tessera Technologies chairman Richard S. Hill, early last year.

Now, Ferguson and Clarke are preparing to resign from the board effective at the 2017 annual meeting or the appointment of a new CEO, whichever comes later. They are expected to be replaced by a single independent director. Meanwhile, existing standstill and voting agreements between Autodesk and Sachem Head have been extended until June 2018.

Autodesk said it expects fiscal 2017 revenue, earnings per share, and subscriber sign-ups to be "at the high end" of guidance released last November.