Its marketing department has been trying to make Autodesk a household name. Its CEOs, one nearly retired and the other newly hired, have been giving endless interviews in the business media. Striking ads have run in Very Expensive Newspapers, as well as Prestigious Publications. For what?
Not much, as this sentence by Chris Noon in Forbes magazine shows:
Autodesk and Microsoft had argued that the patents were invalid, yet after deliberating for 19 consecutive hours, jurors ordered Bill Gates' Microsoft to pay $115 million and San Rafael, Calif.-based Autodesk $18 million. The accompanying graphics is a studio shot of a confident-looking Mr Gates.
In the last decade or so, it was common practice in business to make The CEO = The Company. Sam Walton. Lee Iacocca. Steve Jobs. William Gates III. More recently, however, the trend is back to anonymity. Now the thinking is that we don't want our company denigrated should the CEO become unhinged. And perhaps vice versa: if the company tanks, the CEO doesn't want his name associated publicly. Think Enron. Black&Decker. Aldelphia.
In any case, making Autodesk as common as Kleenex won't work. Opinion makers don't care about design software, just like you don't care which CPU is behind your cell phone. A recent article in Fortune talked about amazing architecture planned for some city. Twice the writer mentioned that the remarkable curves were only possible because of recent advances in architectural design -- no brand names. Worse, the reader got the impression that complex curves are a recent capability in design software.
CAD is anonymous.