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Who is telling the truth in Autodesk’s Cloud PR trainwreck?

Does Autodesk intend to move all its applications exclusively to the Cloud? That is, online only and no longer available on the desktop? Autodesk people who say yes:

Carl Bass [1], CEO
Phil Bernstein [2], Vice President, Building Industry Strategy and Relations
Scott Sheppard [3], Autodesk Labs Software Development Manager (with private Cloud caveat)

Autodesk people who say no:

Kenneth Pimentel [4], Director, Visual Communications Solutions
Andrew Anagnost [5], Senior Vice President of Industry Strategy and Marketing
Clay Helm [6], Public Relations Manager for Manufacturing, Cross-Platform, Sustainability, and Consumers
Various other underlings who make reassuring but non-specific noises about expanded choice, or who admit to inconvenient impracticalities

There’s huge irony in the way Clay (or Andrew) attempts to paint the shafting of MDT customers as a we’ll-look-after-you example, but I think that’s a deliberate distraction tactic; other than this comment I’m going to ignore it. I’m ignoring, too, the spin about informal interviews, misinterpretation and the like. There’s a black-and-white contradiction here. Autodesk either intends to move all its applications online and away from the desktop, or it doesn’t.

Two men say they’re Jesus
One of ’em must be wrong
Dire Straits – Industrial Disease

So who do we believe? Last time I looked at an org chart, the CEO trumped the lot. The buck stops with Carl. So why is he letting his underlings go around undermining his Cloudy Vision [7]? I see the following possibilities:

  1. Autodesk is going Cloud-only but it’s supposed to be a secret. Carl let it slip out and the underlings have been sent to try to cover the tracks by confusing and obfuscating.
  2. Autodesk is going Cloud-only, Carl had it right, but the underlings haven’t all been told yet and are incorrect in their “corrections”.
  3. Autodesk isn’t going Cloud only and Carl was just making stuff up on the fly. Why? To try to impress what he thought was a specific audience who wanted to hear that. It’s ironic that the nature of the Internet meant that the comments made its way to pretty much everyone, including the customers who ultimately pay his salary.

None of these options makes Autodesk look good. Is there an option 4? Feel free to speculate. Ultimately, the only chance of sorting this out is by Carl Bass himself coming out with a definitive and spin-free statement. Even then, will anyone believe him?

I have lost all trust I had in you
Opeth – To Rid The Disease

I can agree with one thing Clay (or Andrew) had to say; you will get the best idea of what’s to come by looking at Autodesk’s history. So if you’re concerned about Autodesk pushing you onto the Cloud against your will, don’t be. Instead, be afraid. Very afraid.