Maybe not so many
In past conference calls, Autodesk liked to trot out the number of pirate users -- 12 million! -- as a sign of the huge upside to forcing its customers onto subscriptions. After all, 12 million as a number is a lot bigger than 2 million -- which is the actual number of customers on permanent licenses that have so far refused to switch. And who knows how accurate the 12 million number is, given Autodesk ceo Andrew Anagnost's statement, "Pirates don’t declare themselves at the door."
The implication was that Autodesk would have within a few years (perhaps as soon as 2020) another 14 million customers paying it a couple of thousand dollars a year. Do the math, and you would have a $28 billion-dollar-a-year company, about 14x larger revenues than today. Not so.
In last week's conference call, Autodesk moderated its earlier claim. Here's what Mr Anagnost says now about converting pirates to his vision:
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I sometimes feel like everybody expects like some quarter I’m going to declare 50,000 net subscriber adds for piracy in the score. You might be waiting a long time to hear that declaration.
This move (with regard to how we address non-paying users in our market) is an ongoing process, basically keeping the run-rate at a relatively nice clip, quarter after quarter after quarter -- well beyond even the FY 2020 goal [when all maintenance subscribers are supposed to be on the new subscription plan]. That’s what some of the companies that have engaged in this, like Adobe and Microsoft, have seen: [converting pirates] has been an ongoing return to the business.
So we have done some new things this quarter:
- We rolled out the in-product messaging to the pirate in AutoCAD, and we’re going to roll that out worldwide as time progresses.
- We’ve also let some things in our sales force with new lead regeneration and new team.
But there’s no headline around how piracy gets added into our business. It’s going to be one of these thing that actually maintains the business as we move forward.
And like I said many times before, pirates don’t declare themselves at the door.