Posts Tagged ‘business’

Kodak Sells Off Its Sensor Business to Add Some Cash to Its Wallet

After arriving late to the digital photography party, Kodak took another step away from the market yesterday by selling off its sensor business to CA-based firm Platinum Equity. The sale of Kodak Image Sensor Solutions (KISS) — which includes the company’s 263,000 square foot facility in Rochester — will hopefully give Kodak the boost of cash it needs to avoid bankruptcy and turn into a healthy business. Kodak sensors are found in a number of popular cameras, including the Leica M9 and S2.

The company is also looking into selling a chunk of its patents to raise more cash, which will help it in its current efforts to transform into a printer and ink company.

(via Business Wire via 1001 Noisy Cameras)

Camera Companies Need to Be Willing to Cannibalize Themselves

Kodak’s fall from grace is an interesting case study that modern day companies can learn from. Even though the world’s first digital camera was invented by one of its engineers, the company was unwilling to cannibalize its film business that, at the time, was making money hand over fist. By the time digital cameras started catching on, Kodak had missed the boat.
Read more…

The Olympus Scandal and White Collar Organized Crime

Jake Adelstein at the Japanese Subculture Research Center has written up an interesting article regarding the ongoing Olympus scandal, focusing on the organized crime allegations that have been brought against the company:

In year 2008, something happened at Olympus that turned the company from an entity focussed on seven major business areas, into a company completely out of focus, blurred by a total of seventeen business areas, to include real estate, investments, consulting, waste disposal, labor dispatch, and running travel agencies. Igari Toshiro, former prosecutor turned anti-yakuza crusader, who was Japan’s greatest expert on white-collar organized crime aka the keizai yakuza (経済ヤクザ)and many veteran organized crime detectives have stated that one of the first signs that a company has been infiltrated by anti-social forces is a sudden and totally new change in company direction–especially into areas like waste disposal, labor dispatch (temporary staffing), and real estate—all areas where anti-social forces have carved out a large niche for themselves.

Just days after being fired, former Chairman Michael Woodford was quoted as saying, “There were $800 million in payments to buy companies making face cream and Tupperware. What the hell were we doing paying $800 million for these companies?”

OLYMPUS: Bringing It Into Focus [Japan Subculture Research Center]


Image credit: OLYMPUS PEN E-P1 by sinkdd

Why Cheap Photographers Don’t Pose a Threat to the Industry

Photographer Zack Arias has an interesting piece on why he doesn’t think photographers should feel threatened by others who offer their services for absurdly low prices:

Think of the brides out there who don’t have a budget but want some photos of their weddings. Maybe there are young couples getting married who don’t have the parents to pay for a big event or they don’t want to start their young family in debt but they would like someone to come take some pictures. Are you saying that if they can’t afford a $3,000+ photographer then they don’t deserve photos? Are you saying that if they can’t afford a Mercedes then they shouldn’t be allowed to drive? Shame on you. Not everyone can afford pro level prices. That doesn’t mean they can’t have some level of photographic services available to them.

[...] I’ve laid this all out to make the point that cheap photography has its place. It has its place for clients who can’t afford much and it has its place for photographers trying to build something from nothing. It’s part of becoming a full time working photographer in an age when so many want to become a photographer.

Cheap Photographers Only Kill Themselves, Not The Industry [Zack Arias]

Leica Sells 44% of Company, Value Pegged at Around $400 Million

Leica Camera is now nearly half American-owned: the company announced yesterday that it has agreed to sell a 44% minority stake to US-based private equity firm Blackstone Group. Leica Chairman Andreas Kaufmann says the purpose is international expansion:

[...] we are concentrating on further developing the brand and its products as well as on entering new markets in Asia, Latin America and the Middle East

Leica has turned things around quite a bit in the past decade. Back in 2004, Kaufmann purchased 95% of the company for around $85 million. The company reported record sales last year, and although the financial details of yesterdays deal weren’t announced, the Wall Street Journal is reporting that the 44% came at a price of $179 million. This would value the company at ~$407 million, meaning the company’s value has grown by a whopping 450% over the past 7-8 years!

(via WSJ via Leica Rumors)

Ex-Olympus Chief Questioned Payments Before Getting Sacked

Last Friday, we reported that Olympus had fired CEO Michael Woodford, claiming that he clashed with the company’s 92-year-old management style. Woodford is now coming out with different story: he believes that he was dismissed after raising questions about $1+ billion in payments the company made in acquisitions between 2006 and 2008. The Financial Times writes,

Mr Woodford [...] had been pressing other directors since July to explain payments related to the 2008 purchase of Gyrus [...]

Olympus’ own auditors had privately identified problems with the Gyrus transaction, the documents show. KPMG, Olympus’ auditor until 2009, said in an internal report dated March that year: “In our opinion proper accounting records have not been maintained.”

Olympus replaced KPMG as its auditor when its contract ended two months later.

Mr Woodford stressed that he had seen no evidence that Olympus executives benefited improperly from the acquisitions. But he said large amounts of money seemed to have “disappeared” into the hands of poorly vetted outside financial advisers and investment vehicles.

According to BusinessWeek, Woodford has met with the U.K. Serious Fraud Office to request that they investigate the acquisition. Olympus is also considering suing Woodford for leaking internal information to the press.

Ex-Olympus chief questioned payments (via 4/3 Rumors)

Success Stories of People Who Turned Ideas into Photo Products

Have an idea for a photo product and an entrepreneurial itch? PDN published an article this past week with three stories of people who successfully turned their ideas into products (and businesses). One of them is the story of Gary Fong and his Lightsphere:

Gary Fong, the former wedding photographer-turned-entrepreneur whose name has become synonymous with lighting accessories, says he got the idea to make his first photographic product, the Lightsphere, while flipping through an in-flight magazine. “There was an ad that said something like, ‘We make plastic parts for your ideas.’” It started him thinking about what he would like to make. What he wanted, he thought, was a large light diffuser, modeled on a lampshade. “Until then, diffusers were tiny. They sat on top of your flash and they didn’t do anything to the shape of the light. All they did was block the light coming through your flash.” He noticed that when he photographed indoors, light filtered through lampshades—which create a hot spot on the ceiling while diffusing the light on faces—produced pretty skin tones. “I thought, okay, I’ll make a big lampshade for electronic flash.”

Fong’s advice to fellow inventors? “All you need is the customers. It’s got to be a product that customers will buy. If they buy some, you know grandma will be packing boxes for you. If they buy waves of them, you’ll have grandma supervising some temps who pack the boxes until you find a distribution company.”

How Inventors Turn Their Ideas Into Photo Products [PDN]


Image credit: April Seattle Flickr meetup by Paul David Gibson

Olympus Fires CEO, Stock Takes Tumble

Olympus fired CEO and President Michael Woodford today, causing the company’s stock price to take a 17% dive. The 51-year-old Briton was accused by the board of ignoring the management culture that the firm has had in place for 92 years. Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa (who replaces Woodford) says,

We hoped that he could do things that would be difficult for a Japanese executive to do, but he was not able to understand that we needed to reflect the management style we have built up since the company was established 92 years ago, as well as Japanese culture.

The “difficult things” included ambitious cost-cutting plans, which proved to be successful in the company’s European division. Woodford had a habit of ignoring the management structure of the company by giving direct orders to employees rather than the leadership of the different units. While Olympus is known in the consumer electronics industry for its digital cameras, it’s medical equipment that keeps the company afloat — the Olympus camera division lost 15 billion yen (~$195 million) in the year to March 2011.

Olympus fires British CEO, a self-confessed loud-mouth [Reuters]

Pentax Now Officially a Ricoh Company

Back in July, we reported that Hoya had agreed to sell the Pentax camera business to Ricoh for roughly $124 million. The deal was completed over this past weekend, and now the business is officially called the “Pentax Ricoh Imaging Company”. Ricoh wanted Pentax — currently the 10th largest digicam brand — for its SLR technologies, so we might be seeing some increased activity from Ricoh and Pentax in the DSLR market very soon.


Image credit: big bang by { pranav }

Kodak Is Disappearing Before Our Eyes

Kodak’s stock plummeted again today, losing nearly 50% of its value and closing at $0.78 per share. The company was worth over $30 billion back in 1997, but todays stock price pegs the value at just $200 million. Prominent investors in the company are calling for its sale, but apparently there’s been hurdles in selling off its patent portfolio, and now bankruptcy might be on the horizon. A quote by a company spokesperson a couple days ago caught my eye: when asked why Kodak was struggling in the digital market, the response was,

We have one of the leading digital camera line-ups, including top-selling pocket video cameras with differentiated features, and a wide range of digital cameras that feature the unique “Share” button.

That kind of explains things, doesn’t it? The end appears to be very near…