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.
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.
Last Friday, Olympus partnered with JetBlue for an Oprah-style giveaway: each of the 1000+ passengers traveling on Flight #001 from New York to Fort Lauderdale was given a newly-announced PEN E-PM1 Micro Four Thirds camera. The company documented the event using its own PEN cameras, and simply asked that everyone upload 20 of their favorite images captured to this website.
Perhaps if it was a flight full of photo-enthusiasts and the camera a top-of-the-line DSLR, the reaction would have been more enthusiastic.
Olympus unveiled a boatload of Micro Four Thirds gear this morning, including three new PEN cameras, two new prime lenses, and a flash. All three cameras pack a 12.3 megapixel sensor with ISO that goes up to 12,800, a speedy new autofocus system (the “world’s fastest”), and 1080i HD video recording. The E-P3 (shown above), the flagship camera of the PEN line, features an all-metal body, a pop-up flash, and an OLED touchscreen. It’ll cost you $900 when it’s out in August 2011. Read more…
Check out this wacky-looking custom lens cap designed by Japanese corp UN for the Olympus XZ-1. Many compact cameras don’t offer too much protection for the lens glass when the camera is off and the lens retracted (usually it’s a small plastic cover/curtain), so there are quite a few camera users that might benefit from a cap like this one. It’s secured to the front of the XZ-1 using an Allen key, and is pushed open when the lens extends from the body. When the camera is turned off, the cap automatically folds back into place to protect the glass. It’s supposedly available for about $90 if you email the company directly.
Olympus has a new “Spokesman Series” of commercials that try to convey the different strengths of their compact cameras in creative ways. They remind me a tiny bit of the Old Spice Guy commercials. Read more…
Olympus announced new compact cameras today. The SZ-30MR (on left) is the world’s first compact that can shoot both 1080p Full HD video and 16 megapixel stills at the same time. What’s more, the camera can record two different videos at once — videos that differ in zoom, quality, or filters.
Next, the TG-810 (on right) is supposedly the “world’s first 100kg crushproof camera”. While we’re not so sure that it’s the world’s first, it certainly seems to be one tough camera. This 14 megapixel camera capable of 720p HD video is crushproof up to 100kg (~220lb), shockproof from a distance of 2m (~6.5ft), waterproof to 10m, and freezeproof to -10°C. Both cameras will be available in April 2011 for $400.
The Gizmon Half D is a digital toy camera by that mimics the look of the Olympus PEN F half frame 35mm camera. The 2 megapixel camera has a 1.5-inch LCD screen, ISO ranging from 100-400, VGA video mode, three aspect ratios (standard, half, and square), and 10 different color modes. Like the Chobi Cam One, the Half D has a number of lenses that can be used for different looks. You can buy one for $120 through the Gizmon store.