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Five years after he stepped down as...

<i> From Staff and Wire Reports</i>

Five years after he stepped down as chief executive of Autodesk Inc. in favor of working as a programmer, John Walker, the brilliant, iconoclastic co-founder of the Sausalito-based software firm, is temporarily resuming a management role in the company.

Walker, who wrote an eloquent 44-page memo to Autodesk employees last spring that criticized the company as “stuck in the past” and “paralyzed by unwarranted caution,” will assume the post of manager of technology for at least the next 90 days, the company said.

In addition, Volker Kleinn, head of Autodesk’s European operations, will become acting chief operating officer while the company conducts a previously announced search for a new chief executive. Kleinn, who has a close relationship with Walker, will share responsibility for day-to-day management with Chairman and Chief Executive Alvar Green, who plans to retire as CEO.

Although Autodesk remains highly profitable by most standards, the company still gets almost 90% of its revenue from AutoCAD, a sophisticated and expensive personal computer design and modeling program that is widely used by architects and engineers. AutoCAD sales have been hurt by the economic downturn, and Autodesk’s efforts to diversify into multimedia software, consumer-oriented modeling products and other areas have met with limited success.

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