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One Hundred Million Dollars


Autodesk achieved its most recent power-of-ten milestone in late 1988, when sales for that year passed the one hundred million dollar mark. Things sure had changed since the party we held in January 1984 to celebrate our first million dollar year! (See Information Letter 11 on page [Ref].)

For a milestone ten times as large, the celebration was far more muted; we held a brief meeting at 5 P.M. in the beer bust room in Sausalito. We had nine binary cakes, a one and eight zeroes, to celebrate the sum. (Actually, there may have been a tenth cake with a dollar sign; I'm not sure.)

A mere three years later, in the fiscal year that ended in January of 1992, Autodesk's sales in Europe alone exceeded $100 million.

Statement for the $100 Million Meeting

by John Walker
December 13th, 1988

One hundred million dollars. Now there's a number to ponder.

I looked back in the AutoCAD development log to see where we were on this date in 1982. As far as I can tell, we managed to exceed $100 million in sales six years to the week after we shipped the very first production AutoCAD.

And you people have nobody to blame for this but yourselves. Because there's nothing here, really, but people. It used to be you had to have a big factory, a fleet of buses, or stores all over to build a $100 million business. Autodesk has done it with imagination, information, hard work, and the best people in the business. All of the source code, all of the masters, all of the documents for all of our products will fit on this little tape. Everything else that this company is and will become is in the people who did it--the people here, the people who couldn't make it, the people overseas, and the people who contributed to our success and have since moved on.

What does a hundred million dollars in sales represent? If you look at the total you miss the reality. The reality is that all the money came from building the best products, then manufacturing, selling, shipping, testing, supporting, marketing, training, accounting, administering, and doing all the innumerable and often invisible and thankless tasks that turn a good idea into a great business.

The problem with these ``power of ten'' parties is that it's so hard to get to the next one. When we did $1.4 million in sales in our first full year we had a celebration that was so memorable I don't remember very much about it, but I do recall saying that we'd all get back together some day to celebrate $10 million. I don't know how many people took that seriously. I did.

Well, here we are celebrating $100 million. Am I going to stand here and seriously talk about a billion dollar party?


How do we get there? Exactly the way we got here, by working away at all the tasks that need to be done, worrying about the details, trying to do the right thing as we see it, and never losing the imagination that is the only chart to an unknowable future in a dangerous world.

What will Autodesk become in the years to come? Precisely what we make of it. And the work we do tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow will carry us from this happy milestone to the next.

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Editor: John Walker