A few weeks ago I pointed out that most public companies put information into their earnings
releases that leads to … shall we say, less than clarity?

Autodesk is a champion at providing reams of information that turn out to be not so useful. In
its fiscal second quarter, 2009 press release, supplemental material and earnings call, the
company made available the following nuggets about seat sales in the quarter:

1. Autodesk shipped 36,000 commercial seats of its 3D design solutions — Inventor, Revit,
Civil 3D, NavisWorks, Robobat, and Moldflow. [The wording is a little strange; Moldflow may
not have been included in the 36,000 seat total, but since Moldflow shipped in the hundreds
of seats per quarter, it isn’t really material.]

2. Autodesk shipped about 26,000 commercial seats of the "Revit family" — Revit, Civil 3D,
NavisWorks and Robobat.

3. By subtraction, then, 10,000 seats of Inventor and possibly Moldflow were shipped in the

4. Inventor’s total installed base in the quarter went from 794,000 to 819,000. When I
subtract here, I get 25,000.

So, what exactly is Autodesk counting in each case? Parsing the language used in each
factoid, it’s possible that the installed base number includes non-commercial seats; some
sort of 2-for-1 bundling (which the company derides when its competitors are thought to do
it); non-3D-design-solution-Inventor (is there such a thing?); pirated licenses being
grandfathered into a support agreement; all of the Moldflow seats ever sold (which I can’t see
getting to 15,000 since Moldflow’s annual reports show that it sold 500 or so per year) …

If you know, let me know and I’ll post it.