Autodesk is the most important software company you’ve never heard of

Autodesk is a $65B software firm that powers the critical infrastructure our lives depend on.


July 14, 2021

Software may be eating the world, but it’s also responsible for building it.

The leading firm in that space is Autodesk, which has seen its market cap jump from ~$14B to $65B over the past 5 years.

Engineers use Autodesk’s software to build slightly important infrastructure such as water treatment facilities, railways, airports, commercial buildings, and highways.

Autodesk has become a market leader thanks to 2 big bets

  • A focus on higher education: Getting leading universities hooked on their certification program has ensured that up-and-coming engineers use their products as early in their career as possible (also, it’s become a ubiquitous LinkedIn profile padding CV booster).
  • A pivot to subscriptions: Making the transition from perpetual licenses to SaaS was a risky move that paid off — offering customers more flexibility and boosting cash flows.

The benefits of these moves have compounded, thanks to natural virality

Most construction projects require multiple partners that benefit from having a unified solution across all parties. That means if one contractor is using Autodesk, all of the partners follow suit.

This dynamic has helped Autodesk grow organically and increase lock-in across their customer base.

Autodesk faces a long list of competitors

As Netscape founder Jim Barksdale famously put it, “The only way to make money is bundling and unbundling.” While competitors go head-to-head against individual product lines, Autodesk is poised to offer a one-of-a-kind bundle going forward.

As a leading creator in 3D animation and construction, Autodesk has the AR/VR chops to become a critical building block of the metaverse.

Given the scrutiny that comes with more headlines, Autodesk is probably perfectly happy flying under the radar.

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