August 24, 2020
Andrew Anagnost, CEO of software company Autodesk, has responded after many top architecture firms, such as Zaha Hadid Architects, Grimshaw Architects, and Rogers Stirk Harbour + Partners, wrote an open letter citing their concerns and criticism related to the company’s Revit software.
Anagnost responded to each of the points raised in the open letter in a blog post on Autodesk’s website.
“First, here are some areas where we need to improve and take steps to fix,” he said responding to concerns over slowed development, not delivering the next-generation platform for AEC, and multiple business model changes.
“In the interest of a full but respectful exchange of ideas, there were several assertions in the letter where I disagreed,” he said.
For criticism that “Autodesk engages in unempathetic and aggressive business practices” Anagnost said, “We assume this assertion relates to license-compliance enforcement. If some of these efforts have become overzealous or unsympathetic to specific customer situations, then we need to address that. However, we will remain vigilant in our efforts to ensure customers pay for software they use, which is both reasonable and fair to vendors and other paying customers alike. But we commit to do so in a respectful and reasonable way going forward.”
In response to “the cost of design software is a key contributor to flat profits for architecture firms” he writes, “Autodesk expense is not the only aspect of software costs, and that architectural practice margins are tight and managing any cost is important. But these numbers are far lower as a percentage than, for example, our cost of Amazon Web Services and Microsoft enterprise tools, the ‘mission critical’ platforms that drive our revenue, and certainly reasonable for tools that are at the centre of the daily work of architects.”
For the criticism that “customers are seeing dramatic increases in cost versus the perpetual business model” he said, “While it is true that our multi-user prices have increased in anticipation of the end of perpetual licensing, no customer has paid Autodesk dramatically more for the same level of usage in the last three to five years than they did in the past.”
“We appreciate our customers raising concerns and letting us know where they believe we have fallen short; whether it is issues of performance, capacity, capabilities, or value. Customers deserve a fair return on their investment in Autodesk software,” Anagnost said. “We will hold ourselves accountable to these concerns and to listening and responding to these needs. In the coming weeks, expect to hear more about some concrete actions we are taking as a result of this feedback.”
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