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CAD Personalities

Robert McNeel, founder and CEO of Robert McNeel & Associates

You haven't met a CAD executive as laid back as Bob McNeel. His company Robert McNeel & Associates was once an Autodesk reseller but is now best known as creator of the Rhino 3D modeler, which claims over 150,000 users. So laid back is Bob that his company doesn't even have a spec to control the next release of software. In fact, asked when the next release will be, he honestly doesn't know.

TenLinks found Bob on the beach at sunny Puerto Vallarta, where his company was sponsoring the recent DIMe conference.

by Roopinder Tara, June 5, 2007

  1. Do your employees even have a work schedule?
    We do get busy around the time of  a release but other than that, they are free to take time off and work whenever they like.
  2. Where are you from?
    Hood River, Oregon - I grew up on a farm in a small town near there.
  3. What did you study in college?
    I started to study engineering but it seemed like a lot of equations for really simple shapes. I got bored and switched to accounting.
  4. You worked as an accountant after graduation?
    Yes. I had a CPA. My clients provided me an excellent experience in how to -- and how not to -- run a business.
  5. What led you to software?
    Our accounting firm developed software for its clients, but after I left them, I serviced architect and engineering firms. AutoCAD was just coming out. You could be a AutoCAD dealer if you bought just 2 copies of software. We wrote AutoLISP routines for our customers. AccuRender was at one time our biggest product.
  6. What was your big break?
    Boeing wanted to buy and have us install AutoCAD (for facilities). They ended up buying three to four thousand seats.
  7. What is the last book you read?
    Wikinomics: How Mass Collaboration Changes Everything [by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams]
  8. Your favorite drink?
    I am a fan of hefeweizen  (German yeast beer)
  9. How do you stay in shape?
    Bike in the summer, ski in the winter.  My wife and I like to a 50-70 mile ride on Saturday.
  10. You gave out your email address (bob@mcneel.com) at the conference. It's on your website. Do you actually answer all your own email?