I am writing to you because I am deeply concerned for the future of our company. Autodesk has been successful over the last nine years because it quickly adapted to the changes in the marketplace for its products. I believe we are embarking on another period of rapid evolution in personal computer software, one fully as significant as that ushered in by the IBM PC in 1982. That product defined the personal computer software industry as we know it. The era we're now entering holds unparalleled opportunity for companies with foresight to anticipate the transitions and position themselves to benefit, creativity to build the next generation of products, aggressive management driven to get the job done and bring it to the customers by energetic marketing, and the financial strength to accomplish all these tasks in times of economic uncertainty.
Autodesk possesses all the prerequisites to lead the next generation of the PC industry, yet it seems to have become stuck in the past, mired in bureaucracy, paralysed by unwarranted caution, and to have lost the edge of rapid and responsive product development and aggressive marketing and promotion on which the success of AutoCAD was founded.
Not only has Autodesk failed to bring the new products it needs to the market, it is allowing AutoCAD, our flagship product and the source of essentially all our revenue, to become dangerously antiquated and under-marketed to an extent that is virtually unique for a product generating sales in excess of $200 million a year.
Just as the rapid changes now underway hold great opportunity for those who exploit them, they imperil companies which fail to adapt. Among software industry leaders prior to the IBM PC, only Microsoft remained in the forefront in the 1980s. The software battlefield is littered with the corpses of companies who had a great success with one product and then neglected that product until it was eventually supplanted by a new, more imaginative product. CP/M, VisiCalc, and WordStar in the past...Lotus 1-2-3 today...and tomorrow? I believe that unless Autodesk acts immediately and decisively, effecting a rapid and comprehensive top-to-bottom change in what the company believes possible and how it goes about accomplishing its goals, AutoCAD will suffer this same fate, destroying with it all we have worked for so long and so hard, extinguishing forever the promise and opportunity that Autodesk still holds in its hands.
Editor: John Walker