On August 17, Autodesk CEO Andrew Anagnost published a blog post on the company website meant to initiate a productive dialogue, explicitly address needed changes, and, naturally, offer a few points of disagreement while attempting to quell a chorus of vexed architecture, engineering and design firms that had come together to collectively express their grievances with the software giant and its core BIM product, Revit.
Although frustrations aired by the firms are manifold, at the heart of the matter is the assertion that while ownership costs for Revit have increased and licensing models have become more complex, the development of the platform itself has remained largely stagnant over the past several years.
Anagnost’s lengthy dispatch, which followed a response from Amy Bunszel, the company’s senior vice president of Design & Creation products, is certainly a positive development and a step toward making things right—or at least better. However, the number of firms that have now signed a dissatisfaction-detailing open letter to Autodesk—aggregated in response to a June 2020 survey—that first began circulating in late July has grown exponentially in recent weeks, suggesting that the discontent outlined in the letter extends well beyond the original group of 17 public co-signatories, which included a few (mostly British) heavy-hitters including Zaha Hadid Architects, Grimshaw, Wilkinson Eyre Architects, and Rogers, Stirk, Harbour and Partners.
A large number of Dutch firms are among the most recent co-signatories. As of this writing, roughly a dozen U.S.-based firms have also co-signed and supported the letter including Cooper Carry, Portman Architects, and Goody Clancy.
In an update shared by London-based IT consult and self-described “industry veteran” Iain Godwin, the open letter, which Godwin coordinated, has now been co-signed or supported by a globe-spanning group over 116 architecture and design firms. (Technically, 85 firms have publicly signed the letter while 32 firms have expressed their support in it but declined to sign out of fear of repercussion.)
Just a small handful of quotes from co-signing firms:
“We agree to the letter in general. More specifically we see that Autodesk is more concerned getting higher prices, higher profit instead of more customer value and satisfaction. We have been a customer of Autodesk for many years and are now forced to accept more user-based licenses in comparison to the network-based licenses. This is only increasing our costs.”
“We see little development in Revit and a growing increase in services that you would expect to be covered as standard functionality, looking at Revit’s current price point. Especially BIM 360 Design is an example. We are required to invest around €1K per user per year to facilitate them to collaborate in the cloud. The functionality is great, but the price point is a clear example of vendor lock-in. This feels very uncomfortable.”
“We would like Autodesk to be client-driven instead of Autodesk-driven.”
While the process behind getting new firms to sign on as additional co-signatories was a touch ad hoc in the beginning, there is now a formal sign-up sheet for interested parties to fill out if they wish to be included. All potential co-signatories will be vetted. Firms also have the option of remaining anonymous if they wish.