The Valley's new religion
What do you think of Silicon Valley's growing political
I think it's wonderful! It's a natural extension of the age of Silicon
Valley. You wake up one morning and you say to yourself: Wait a minute! I'm
in my 40s and 50s here and if I don't start paying attention to what's
happening politically and to our society and to the problems, who is? While
we were all so busy in our 20s and 30s growing these companies, we always knew
there was somebody else paying attention to the rest of this stuff. Now, it's us.
By the way, it does not mean that we need or will take the eye off the ball in
making sure that U.S. is the technology leader in the world. That is
what Silicon Valley is all about. Just as I have a passion about Autodesk, I have a
passion for Silicon Valley. But it is part of our responsibility to not only carry our
agendas forward, but to also make sure that this is a world that we want to
Have you been involved with TechNet, a new Silicon Valley lobbying
organization started by venture capitalist
John Doerr, or with any of the other lobby organizations that are starting to spring up?
Of course I was involved a lot in the California Prop. 211 political environment, for all the
obvious reasons. I certainly know what John Doerr is doing. I'm on Cisco's board
and John Chambers is very active in some of those organizations. And so I'm very
much a supporter. I haven't become an activist, but I'm certainly willing to support
those organizations, as my time permits and as best I can.
Does Silicon Valley really have enough of the same political
goals to stick together and lobby effectively on non-business issues, like social
Any time you get half a dozen people, you're going to get a half a dozen of political goals or certainly two or three.
But that's what this country is founded on: different ideas. So we're going to have
the left and the right and the middle and the new middle and the new left and the new
right. I think that's what makes it fun.
I do believe though that we are coming together on some basic goals and I
think education is a basic goal for a lot of reasons. One is we all have children
now. Two, we need new employees. We need employees to feed our growth. And so I think
that understanding that California education and U.S. education in general has
reached a crisis stage, is a goal we can share.
Who knows? It's hard to tell. Every time you get closer to an election you
have a chance for issues to get tougher. So I think it will. But again, that's the
natural political process.
It's easy to be a closet politician because you don't have to put your
stands out publicly, but there comes a time when you have to go to the
front lines and say "I do believe this" or "I believe that." And I think
we've all been able to be closet politicians.
I recently saw a Newsweek article that shows the pricey
toys of the rich boys from Silicon Valley, like jet planes and fabulous mansions. Do you
have any toys?
No, my toys are my tomato plants. I'm a gardener and I enjoy life when I'm
not playing with my daughter. And so I've not collected toys in that fashion.
We all know Intel chairman Andy Grove's Law:
"Only the paranoid survive." Is there a Bartz Law?
No! My daughter probably thinks so, but ...
What would you daughter think a Bartz Law would be?
My daughter would think that Bartz Law would be "Do your best" and "Be
a logical person." If people understood the consequences of their
actions, I think this whole world would be a better place. To me that's a
simple concept, but a lot of people don't have it! But it's not a Bartz
You're running a successful company. You're in a position that a
lot of women can never dream to be in: What do you want to do next with your
Well I'm not into "next" right now, actually. The way I've really run my
entire career is as long as I'm having fun and learning, surrounded by good
people, and making a difference, I can't imagine the next thing. And next
things always just happen to me when it was the right time. And we are
really on the verge of some great stuff here at Autodesk and I love the
employees here, the market is exciting because it's meaningful--we help
people create things.
I get a big kick as I travel around the world, seeing
that we helped design the tallest building in Asia and the new airport in
Hong Kong, and you name it--violins in Italy. It's really fun. And as long
as it stays fun, I'm not worried about the next thing.
I think that I will, as time goes on, try to be more involved in helping in this education
thing. I am also very intensely interested in the breast cancer issue and I
want to make sure that research continues in those arenas. So I have a
couple of personal pet projects. And of course I'm very interested in my
family. So I want to make sure I'm doing all those things. But from a
career standpoint, I'm having fun here.