On Monday, Carl Bass, the CEO of $18 billion Autodesk, gave an interview with Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy where he described President Donald Trump as “acting
somewhere between a dictator and a small business owner.”
On Tuesday, Bass announced that he’s stepping down as Autodesk CEO, effective immediately.
He’ll stay on the Autodesk board and assist with the search for a new chief executive, with senior executives Amar Hanspal and Andrew Anagnost holding down the fort as interim co-CEOs.
Autodesk is best known as the company behind AutoCAD, the ubiquitous design software for the worlds of architecture, manufacture, and construction.
In a blog entry, Bass says he’s been discussing the possibility of this move “for the last couple of years.” Still, the timing of his departure is interesting, given the explicit nature of his criticisms of Trump.
“I’ve known Bass for a while, and I am used to his outspoken nature. But even I couldn’t’t believe he said some of this on the record,” Lacy wrote in preface to her interview that was published on Monday.
Tech companies like Google and Netflix have spoken out against Trump’s policies, particularly the recent order temporarily suspending immigration from predominantly muslim countries. But those comments have focused on Trump’s policies, whereas Bass’s comments were aimed directly at the President’s character.
“We are talking about a guy who likes belittling people. He really is a bully. Look, everyone I talk to, the tech guys, who went to that first meeting, well, you saw what they looked like. They didn’t want to be there,” Bass told Lacy.
It’s possible that Bass felt more free to express his opinion knowing that he was about to step down from the CEO job.