Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford has gotten his wish: the entire Olympus board resigned this week in the aftermath of the company’s epic financial scandal and stock tumble. They did, however, pick a new president and chairman before handing in their letters of resignation. Hiroyuki Sasa from the company’s medical equipment marketing division was picked for president, while banker Yasuyuki Kimoto has been chosen as chairman. The changes are expected to be finalized at an April 20th shareholders meeting. Sasa has promised to both win back public trust and to prevent another scandal from every occurring.
For those of you who are interested in the business and technology side of things, here’s an interesting 45-minute interview in which Digg founder Kevin Rose chats with Instagram founder Kevin Systrom:
They chat about Systrom’s growing up with computers, his time spent at Stanford, and landing an internship at a startup destined to be worth billions. This ultimately led to launching Instagram which is now 15 million users strong and one of the fastest growing social networks on the planet!
The Economist has a fascinating piece looking at the similarities and differences between Kodak and Fujifilm, two juggernauts of film photography that took different paths when digital photography came around:
While Kodak suffers, its long-time rival Fujifilm is doing rather well. The two firms have much in common. Both enjoyed lucrative near-monopolies of their home markets: Kodak selling film in America, Fujifilm in Japan. A good deal of the trade friction during the 1990s between America and Japan sprang from Kodak’s desire to keep cheap Japanese film off its patch.
Both firms saw their traditional business rendered obsolete. But whereas Kodak has so far failed to adapt adequately, Fujifilm has transformed itself into a solidly profitable business, with a market capitalisation, even after a rough year, of some $12.6 billion to Kodak’s $220m. Why did these two firms fare so differently?
Kodak is burning through $70 million every month and desperately trying to stay alive by selling off divisions that other companies are willing to buy. After selling off its sensor business last month, the company announced yesterday that it has agreed to sell off its gelatin business (called) Eastman Gelatine) to Rousselot, the world’s leader gelatin producer. Gelatin is one of the main components used in photographic film and paper, so this certainly can’t be good news for Kodak’s future in film photography. Terms of the deal weren’t disclosed.
Olympus’ stock price has been recovering quite nicely after an internal probe found no evidence of yakuza involvement (though they did slam upper management as “rotten”). However, rumors of possible takeover attempts persist. An article published by Bloomberg today reported that Fujifilm may be in the hunt for the beleaguered company:
Fujifilm, which makes equipment for medical scans, has been reported as a possible bidder for Japanese camera maker Olympus Corp. Yamamoto, who also is a board member at Fujifilm, declined to comment on a possible buyout of Olympus today.
Fujifilm Chief Executive Officer Shigetaka Komori said last month it was too early to discuss Olympus issues while the third-party panel was still probing the fraud at the camera maker.
Fujifilm has received a lot of praise lately for its sleek X series cameras, and could take another big step towards becoming a digital camera juggernaut if it somehow landed Olympus.
As newspapers and magazines struggle to keep eyeballs from turning to the free world of the Web, more and more blogs are rising up to fill the niches once dominated by print. Despite the changing landscape, magazines are still able to command high advertising rates that blogs can’t match (yet). Wanting to find out whether magazines or blogs provided the best bang of each advertising buck, photographer Trey Ratcliff recently spent $26,000 placing ads in three major photography magazines, comparing the results to his online affiliate ad returns. His conclusion?
If I was consulting for one of these product companies that puts significant funds into magazine advertising, I would challenge them to try something new for six months: Try taking 50% of that money and put it into several hundred blogs, podcasts and review sites and measure the results. Cut the worst performers and find new ones.
Only one of the three magazines actually made Ratcliff money (the other two lost over ten thousand dollars) — the one that included an online ad rotation as part of the package.
Once ranked among the bluest of blue chips, Kodak shares sell today at close to $1. Kodak’s chairman has been denying that the company is contemplating a bankruptcy filing with such vehemence that many believe Chapter 11 must lurk just around the corner.
The Rochester, N.Y., company said it had $862 million in cash on hand as of Sept. 30, but at the rate it’s losing money from operations (more than $70 million a month), that hoard would barely last a year.
No wonder the company is trying to find someone to purchase its online photo sharing service for hundreds of millions. Even if it did manage to find a buyer, the sale would only buy a few more months of life unless the company can figure out how to stop the bleeding.
Here’s a video in which business-savvy photographer Sal Cincotta shares some tips on how to turn your photography service into an experience that your clients will remember and be excited to recommend to others.
Last week we reported that starting with Adobe CS6, only people who own the previous major release of the software (i.e. CS5 and above) will be eligible for upgrade pricing. Needless to say, Photoshop users are’t too happy about the changes, and now National Association of Photoshop Professionals president Scott Kelby is weighing in. In an open letter to Adobe, he writes,
While I understand that Adobe needs to make business decisions based on how it sees market conditions, I feel the timing of this new pricing structure is patently unfair to your customers (and our members). Here’s why: You didn’t tell us up front. You didn’t tell us until nearly the end of the product’s life cycle, and now you’re making us buy CS5.5 for just a few months on the chance that we might want to buy CS6 at a discount when it’s released. Otherwise, we have to pay the full price as if we were never Adobe customers at all.
Kelby also makes a plea for Adobe to either start the new policy with CS7 or to offer a tiered upgrade structure in which upgrade price is based on how recent your version is. That definitely makes more sense than having CS4 users pay full price to upgrade to CS6.