Autodesk's COO to take over as CEO

Carol Bartz, who has led software maker Autodesk for the past 14 years, will be stepping down, clearing the way for the company’s chief operating officer, Carl Bass, to take over as president and chief executive officer, effective May 1.

Bass, who has been with the company for the past decade, has also been appointed to the San Rafael, Calif.-based company’s expanded board of directors. Bartz will become the first executive chairman of the board.

During a telephone press conference this morning, Bass said the company’s business priorities across all industry sectors will remain the same after the change. He said the company will also continue to build on its 3-D technology and services.

Bass also said that during the past year, the company has been focusing more on the government sector, especially on homeland security and emergency management. The new emphasis comes because the company feels the market is underserved at the federal, state, local and international levels, he added.

Bartz said she wants to spend more time with her family but will continue to work with the company, focusing on “creating even stronger relationships of customers, partners and investors and emerging markets in China, India and Eastern Europe.”

She called the leadership transition a natural evolution.

“I also think that Carl is just ready,” she said. “Our board took their duty of succession more seriously and has done a better job than most boards in the corporate world.”

Autodesk, which was founded in 1982, develops computer-aided design, mapping and other software for the manufacturing, government, building and entertainment sectors, among others. It has nearly 4,000 employees worldwide and generates about $1.5 billion in revenue annually.

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