Before visiting Andrew Anagnost, the chief executive of Autodesk, you’re supposed to walk through the gallery on the second floor of the company’s San Francisco office. A full-size model of a Mercedes Benz sports car grown from genetically modified seeds sits like a giant Chia pet. Just past it is a 3-D-printed nylon dress draped over a mannequin, which is next to a metal skull implant and a model of the tallest building in China. It’s a museum of a software maker’s greatest hits.
Upstairs, Anagnost, 52, awaits in a streamlined office, yoga mat tucked to one side. Two slogans greet the visitor at eye level. “Impulsiveness is not a virtue,” says one. And from his wife: “Positive vibes.”
It’s a welcome message at Autodesk, the 36-year-old pioneer in computer-aided design, or CAD, software. Anagnost got the job in June 2017 after a lengthy activist-investor battle and the resignation of his former boss. Autodesk had spent years searching for a second act, acquiring startups and pouring money into long-shot research. Anagnost had a simple mission: pick a winner.
Wall Street is betting that he’s picked the right one. Autodesk’s share price has nearly tripled in the last three years; its $27 billion market value is 13 times revenue. That’s a big bet on a company that has been losing money since 2016.
Anagnost’s pick: software for the building trades. The skills behind the algori