German broadcaster Deutsche Welle produced this interesting segment on photographer Yuri Arcurs and how he turned his microstock photography into a million-dollar photography empire. Here’s a mind-boggling statistic: on average, Arcurs sells one of his images every 8 seconds.
Crippled by its recent financial scandal, Olympus is in need of a bailout and has been open to the idea of forming a strategic alliance with other companies. The latest news is that Sony is on the brink of acquiring a 20-30% stake in the beleaguered medical device and camera company, a sizable increase from the 0.03% it currently owns. The alliance would combine Sony’s expertise in making camera sensors with Olympus’ expertise in medical devices. Fujifilm has also been named as a company that’s interested in investing in Olympus, but Sony seems to currently be the clear front-runner.
Kodak was warned by the New York Stock Exchange yesterday that its stock will be delisted if its price remains under $1 for the next six months. The stock has had an average closing price of below $1 for over 30 consecutive days now, and is no longer compliant with the NYSE’s requirement for minimum share price. Sadly, the company might not last another six months: the Wall Street Journal reported today that the company is now preparing to file for bankruptcy, which will likely happen in the coming weeks unless the company succeeds in its efforts to sell its 1,100 digital imaging patents. The revelation added insult to injury as the stock price plummeted another 28% today.
More news from the ongoing Olympus scandal: despite an official explanation issued by Olympus last week, the company’s stock has continued to plummet. It closed today at ¥1,099, down from around ¥2,500 before the crisis began. Investors are apparently spooked after a major Japanese newspaper suggested that the payments at the center of the controversy could have links to the criminal underworld (something the company has denied). The New York Times is reporting that the FBI is now involved in the investigation.
Bloomberg writes that Olympus’ stock price makes it an attractive option for a potential acquisition: the current price pegs Olympus’ market value at $3.85 billion, even though its medical-equipment business alone is worth $7.8 billion.
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. Read more…
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.
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.
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.
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.