How $2.3B Autodesk “looks to the edge” for emerging trends

Jon PittmanAutodesk, based in San Rafael, California, was one of the early pioneers of the PC software era. Founded in 1982, its first major product was AutoCAD, which let engineers and architects create sophisticated technical drawings for their projects. The company has since branched into software used for movie special effects, videogame development, and designing all sorts of consumer and industrial products. The company has about 7,500 employees and $2.3 billion in annual revenue.

But while Autodesk’s customers include giants like Marriott, Boeing, General Motors, and Gensler, Jon Pittman, Vice President of Corporate Strategy, says that when his group thinks about the company’s future, it tends to look to the edge — interest groups and individuals playing with new tools and technologies, even though they might not be users of Autodesk products today.

“We started right around the time the PC was coming into fruition, and we grew up into this more enterprise-y software company,” Pittman says. “But when we started, we were really focused on enthusiasts, the tribes who wanted to see what PCs were capable of in the early 1980s — not really the big companies.”

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