Update: Olympus has released an official response to the allegations.
Since Olympus abruptly fired CEO Michael Woodford (pictured, on left) four days ago, the company’s stock price has fallen from roughly ¥2,480 to its current price of ¥1,417, a 43% drop that wiped out nearly $4 billion in value. As we reported yesterday, Woodford is now asking the UK to investigate the company’s financial practices, and is claiming that he was booted when on the verge of exposing fraud.
Here’s a strange (and extremely rare) piece of camera gear: the Leica Telephoto Assembly Rifle. Also known as “the Leica Gun”, it was made for photographers at the 1936 Olympics in Berlin, Germany, and became popular among wildlife and sports photographers during the interwar years. One of them will be auctioned off at the Tamarkin Rare Camera Auction on October 30th, and is expected to fetch up to $100,000.
Who knows, maybe shoulder stocks will make a comeback as a form of image stabilization.
Leica Telephoto Assembly Rifle (via Leica Rumors)
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]
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…
Yesterday Kodak’s stock fell 64 cents, or 26.9%, to close at $1.74 — the lowest the stock price has been in 38 years. Investors were reacting to news that the company (which hasn’t netted a profit since 2007) had taken out a new $160 million loan. The plummeting value of the company is bad news for the photography pioneer but good news for companies that might be interested in buying it — a list that is rumored to include Google and Microsoft.
Kodak shares hit 38-year low on borrowing concerns [Reuters]
Update: Reader Christian Rudman points out that the reason for the loan wasn’t because Kodak’s cash reserves had run out. They last reported having nearly $1 billion on hand on June 30th.
Microstock did a lot of damage by turning traditional stock photography on its head, but now a company called Stipple is trying to give microstock a taste of its own medicine. The company, which offers technology for tagging people and objects in photos, has launched its new Image Marketplace website for publishers who want to use photographs without having to pay for them. Instead of publishers paying the photographers or agencies for licenses, brands step into the equation by paying money to advertise through the photos. The photographer then collects money based on the number of clicks and hovers their photographs receive.
Stipple Marketplace (via TechCrunch)
Japanese business newspaper Nikkei reported yesterday that Nikon is on the cusp of announcing its entry into the mirrorless camera market. What’s more, the paper stated that the camera would cost between ¥70,000-¥100,000 ($900-$1,300), a pretty common price point for this type of camera (though it may be somewhat high if the camera only packs a 2.7x sensor). In response, Nikon put out a strange press release titled “Comments on Media Reports about Nikon’s imaging product”:
Nikon understands that some article appeared in the media regarding Nikon’s imaging product. Please note that Nikon has made no announcement in this regards.
Nikon’s stock price has jumped roughly 6% since Wednesday. The latest word is that the camera is scheduled to be unveiled on September 21st. Unless Canon has something crazy up its sleeves, it looks like Nikon has beaten it to the mirrorless game.
Image credit: Hiding by Tiggywinkle
If you look at the price of Kodak’s stock, you’ll see that the company is currently worth about $600 million — a figure that may be significantly lower than what its digital imaging patents could sell for. With the risk looming that a buyer might try to acquire the patents by simply taking over the company, Kodak is taking evasive maneuvers:
The Rochester photo and imaging company said Monday that its board had created a special class of stock to serve as a firewall in case someone tries to take a majority interest in the company.
Under the terms of the deal, if any investor tries to buy 5 percent or more of the company over the next three years, Kodak would issue all current stockholders shares of preferred stock. As a result, any takeover attempt would require the purchase of additional shares that could make the cost prohibitive.
In the business world, this tactic is known as a “poison pill“.
Kodak makes defensive move (via 1001 Noisy Cameras)
Image credit: Pill tablet by doug88888
This card company must feel pretty good about itself — they managed to save 50% on the stock photos used for these “new baby” cards!
(via @weikiemon via John Nack)
Image credit: Photograph by @weikiemon and used with permission
If Fujifilm has been waiting to see whether the retro-tastic FinePix X100 would sell well before working on an interchangeable lens followup, they’d better start calling the engineers into the office. The camera is finally starting to become available in the US, but every time a handful of the cameras appear on Amazon, photography blogs alert their readers and the inventory is sold out within minutes. Reviewers are also heaping their praises on the camera — here’s what Steve Huff has to say about it:
The Fujifilm X100 ROCKS and it ROCKS HARD. No, it is NOT perfect but neither is the Leica X1, or NEX-5, or E-P2, or Ricoh. What the X100 has is a combination of looks, size, performance and technology all wrapped up into one classic and sexy well built design. $1200? It’s priced right folks. To be honest, this could be my only camera and I would be happy. It’s light enough to take anywhere, it’s a joy to use, and once you get used to how it operates and exposes, the results are up there with the best of the APS-C cameras. [#]
Look at the bright side: the price of the $1,200 camera has dropped on eBay from $2,000-$3,000 used to $1,600 new with Buy it Now!
(via Mirrorless Rumors)
Image credit: Fire by Ferdi’s – World