Carl Bass, CEO of software company Autodesk with a market cap of $18 billion describes himself as “batsh*t about President Trump” and he’s felt that way “for a year,” throughout the campaign, he told Pando Daily’s Sarah Lacy.
Like many other folks in the U.S. who are not fans of the new president, Bass has got a long list of concerns.
They range from some of Trump’s personality traits (“This idea that you can have alternative facts, and objective reality doesn’t matter is really disturbing,” Bass says.”) to the people Trump has advising him, like Steve Bannon. (“Imagine we had a left-wing President, and he decided to appoint Arianna Huffington as the person to preside over the National Security Council,” he describes.)
Bass is not on Trump’s economic advisory committee, but unlike most Americans, he does have a long history of interacting with Washington politicians. He’s been the spokesperson for software lobbying groups. (Autodesk is a member of the BSA Software Alliance, for instance.)
And, he says, those experiences were also crazy-making.
“We would go to Washington and lobby about something like anti-piracy being part of the trade agreement with China. My personal experience was that it was the most frustrating days of my job, because you felt like stuff never got done. All you were trying to do was get them to understand a little bit about something,” he said.
He described one situation where he was talking to a “congressman from Texas” who didn’t understand that a company’s offshore money was stored in an overseas bank. During the conversation the Congressman leaned back, put his boots on the table and asked Bass “Son, so you are telling me that when your money is overseas, it’s not in US banks?”
But the funniest story he told was a meeting with former US Senator Harry Reid, “who sat there with CEOs and read us a bunch of pages out of a Dr. Seuss book,” he describes. “We are all looking at each other like, “I must be high, or I’d like to be high.”
Bass couldn’t really explain point of that meeting, “Something in there was some kind of parable or lesson, but we were too literal and stupid to understand what he was talking about. He had some point, I have no idea what it is to this day.”