In the corporate world, diversification is a way of life. As multinational conglomerates like PepsiCo can tell you, spreading out business over multiple sectors protects a company from economic shocks to any one industry, and opens up access to more markets. A quick peek at SEC filings for some of the most prominent camera manufacturers reveals that many of them have made a strong effort to put this concept into practice, and you might be surprised at how small a role consumer photography plays in their annual sales.
Next time you’re in a big corporate meeting, particularly one that concerns impending layoffs at the company, it might be a good idea to keep your camera in your pocket. That’s the lesson Patch Creative Director Abel Lenz learned yesterday when he was unceremoniously given the boot while about 1,000 of his coworkers listened in on a conference call. Read more…
Yahoo made some management moves a couple of weeks ago, with VP Adam Cahan becoming head of the company’s mobile endeavors and its photo-sharing service, Flickr. Cahan was previously the founder and CEO of IntoNow, a 12-week-old company that Yahoo acquired last year for $20 to $30 million.
The Olympus scandal that rocked the business world last year was one of the biggest cases of financial fraud ever seen in corporate Japan. The Economist has published an interesting piece on why Japanese capitalism might not learn from the mistake:
At one point Olympus’s shares lost about 80% of their value, yet its institutional shareholders uttered not “one word” of criticism against the company’s board [...] For many, the Olympus scandal highlighted the need for more checks and balances. Mr Woodford (pictured), whose angry memoir is to be published this month, likens Japanese boardrooms to “Alice in Wonderland”. They need more assertive shareholders and regulators, and more independent directors, he reckons.
Keidanren, Japan’s big-business lobby, appears to have drawn the opposite conclusion. Olympus had three external directors, a high number for Japan [...] The problem, in Keidanren’s view, was too much external scrutiny.
After the United States was rocked by its own series of financial scandals in the early 2000s, the government increased regulation by passing the controversial Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002.
After the Olympus scandal, Japan Inc wants less scrutiny [The Economist]
Image credit: Photo illustration based on The Donatello Boardroom by ShellVacationsHospitality and Search. by Jeffrey Beall
It was almost exactly one year ago that Olympus fired then-CEO Michael Woodford and started a chain of events that culminated in one of the largest financial scandals in Japanese history. Woodford received an incredible amount of international attention for his role in the saga, since he was one of the highest ranking executives ever to turn into a whistleblower.
He may have lost his $8-million-a-year job, but he likely won’t ever need another: in addition to settling for a reported $15.5 million over the breakup, Woodford is also cashing in by writing a book that offers his account of what transpired.
Kodak’s ongoing request to dole out millions of dollars in bonuses to executives in the midst of its bankruptcy struggles has been met with plenty of criticism, but perhaps none more so than from former employees who are anxiously waiting to see whether their pensions and benefits will be affected. The Wall Street Journal writes,
In letters filed to Kodak’s bankruptcy docket Wednesday, Richard Pignataro and Cecil D. Quillen Jr. said it’s not fair for Kodak to reward executives while they and other former Kodak workers face the risk that the company could seek to trim or modify their benefits.
“To reward people with money that should go to us and for reducing our potential payout is grossly unfair and I ask that you reconsider this bonus plan and most importantly assist us to retain what we worked so hard to earn,” Pignataro wrote in a letter dated July 16.
Kodak’s plan proposes to set aside $8.8 million in cash and deferred stock for 15 “key management employees,” including nine executives, deemed “essential” to Kodak’s ability to successfully restructure.
Ex-Kodak Employees Blast Bonus Plan [WSJ]
Image credit: money cash hoes by RiverRatt3
Olympus has been in the photography game since introducing its first camera back in 1936, but its future as a major player is at risk now that the company is caught up in one of the largest corporate scandals Japan has ever seen. According to Reuters, the company is reviewing its business structure, and there is speculation that it may be forced to sell off assets to survive.
While the company may be best known for its cameras, its actually built around a $2.6 billion endoscope business, of which it virtually holds a worldwide monopoly. Its camera business, on the other hand, is operating at a loss. According to investment bankers, other camera manufacturers are following the Olympus saga closely, but will likely hold off on making a move until things clear up more.
Olympus to review business structure amid scandal (via 43 Rumors)
Image credit: Olympus OM-30 SLR camera (OM-F) by csaveanu
Here are some developments in the ongoing Olympus scandal: investors and a former director are currently calling for fired CEO Michael Woodford to be brought back to clean house and right the ship. At the same time, The New York Times is reporting that Japanese investigators are still trying to understand a $4.9 billion hole in Olympus’ financial records, and believe that over half of that amount were paid to organized crime groups in Japan. More specifically, the company is accused of being linked to Yamaguchi-Gumi, the country’s most infamous yazuka organization.
Ever wonder how George Eastman chose the name “Kodak” for the company he founded?
The letter “K” had been a favorite of Eastman’s, he is quoted as saying, “it seems a strong, incisive sort of letter.” He and his mother devised the name Kodak with an anagram set. He said that there were three principal concepts he used in creating the name: it should be short, one cannot mispronounce it, and it could not resemble anything or be associated with anything but Kodak. [#]
In 1907, Kodak became the first company to integrate its name and look into a symbol, and starting in the 1930′s, Kodak adopted yellow and red as its “trade dress” colors.
Did you know that Canon’s first logo back in 1934 depicted Kwanon, the Buddhist Goddess of Mercy? Kwanon was actually the brand name used until they began thinking about expansion:
When the Company sought to begin full-scale marketing, it needed a brand name that would be accepted by people worldwide. From this standpoint, in 1935 the name Canon was registered as the official trademark. The word Canon has a number of meanings, including scriptures, criterion and standard. The trademark was therefore worthy of a company involved with precision equipment, where accuracy is fundamentally important. It also embodied the Company’s desire to meet world-class criteria and industry standards. And since Canon and Kwanon had similar pronunciations, the transition went smoothly. [#]
Not a bad decision if you ask me…