Thursday, January 18, 2018
Business

Kodak, left behind by digital age, files for Chapter 11 bankruptcy

ROCHESTER, N.Y. — Kodak's moment has come and gone.

The glory days, when Eastman Kodak Co. ruled the world of film photography, lasted for over a century. Then came a stunning reversal of fortune: cutthroat competition from Japanese firms in the 1980s and a seismic shift to the digital technology it pioneered but couldn't capitalize on. Now comes a wistful worry that this American business icon is edging toward extinction.

Kodak filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection Thursday, raising the specter that the 132-year-old trailblazer could become the most storied casualty of a digital age.

On its website, Kodak assured customers that the nearly $1 billion in debtor-in-possession financing would be sufficient to pay vendors, suppliers and other business partners in full for goods and services going forward. Web photo storage services will not be affected.

Already a shadow of its former self, cash-poor Kodak will reorganize in bankruptcy court, as it seeks to boost its cash position and stay in business. It hopes to peddle a trove of photo patents and morph into a new-look powerhouse built around printers and ink.

"Kodak played a role in pretty much everyone's life in the 20th century because it was the company we entrusted our most treasured possession to — our memories," said Robert Burley, a photography professor at Ryerson University in Toronto.

Kodak has notched just one profitable year since 2004. At the end of a four-year digital makeover during which it dynamited aged factories, chopped and changed businesses and eliminated tens of thousands of jobs, it closed 2007 on a high note with net income of $676 million. It soon ran smack into the recession — and its momentum reversed.

Kodak's downfall reaches back to the 1980s, when Tokyo-based Fuji, an emerging archrival, began to eat into Kodak's fat profits with novel offerings like single-use film cameras. Beset by excessive caution and strategic stumbles, Kodak was finally forced to cut costs. Its long slide had begun.

Mass layoffs came every few years, as Kodak has sliced its global payroll to 18,800 from a peak of 145,300 in 1988.

Veteran employees who dodged the well-worn ax are not alone in fearing what comes next. Some 25,000 Kodak retirees in this medium-sized city on Lake Ontario's southern shore worry their diminished health coverage could be clawed back further, if not disappear, in bankruptcy court.

It's a far cry from George Eastman's paternalistic heyday.

Founded by Eastman in 1880, Kodak marketed the world's first flexible roll film in 1888 and turned photography into an overnight craze with a $1 Brownie camera in 1900.

Comments
Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

Tampa Bay area doesn’t make cut as Amazon second headquarter finalist

To no one’s surprise, Amazon on Thursday released its list of location finalists for its second headquarters, and neither Tampa nor St. Petersburg was on it."We knew it was going to be a long shot and a difficult road," Tampa Mayor Bob Buckhorn said....
Updated: 1 hour ago
Trump tweets create confusion on GOP plan to avert shutdown; Ryan tries to calm Republicans

Trump tweets create confusion on GOP plan to avert shutdown; Ryan tries to calm Republicans

WASHINGTON — The White House said Thursday that President Donald Trump supports a short-term spending bill to avert a government shutdown, as eroding support for the measure among Senate Democrats and some Republicans increased the prospects of a clo...
Updated: 1 hour ago

Deal clears way for Oldsmar townhomes

OLDSMAR — The City Council voted 4-1 last month in favor of approving a development agreement for a 50-unit townhome community on a nearly 4-acre parcel on St. Petersburg Drive. According to the terms of the agreement, Oldsmar Towns LLC will build a ...
Updated: 2 hours ago
Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

Here are Tampa Bay's priciest home sales in 2017

If there’s one word to describe the buyers of Tampa Bay’s 25 priciest homes in 2017 it’s this: eclectic. As in previous years, the group included doctors, lawyers and professional sports figures — three of the homes were purc...
Updated: 3 hours ago
Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

Ace Hardware in Oldsmar has those hard to find home items

When Vision ACE Hardware opened in Oldsmar last November, the very first customer came in looking for a light bulb that he couldn’t find anywhere else."We had that lightbulb," said Stone Ackroyd, marketing manager. "That’s what ACE does. We have thos...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

Mellow Mushroom opens third locationin Wesley Chapel

LUTZ — Mellow Mushroom opened the doors to its new location this week in Wesley Chapel.This is the third location for owner Rob Johnson, who opened the Mellow Mushroom in Brandon 12 years ago, and then expanded to Clearwater.Johnson began looking at ...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Sweets, savories and surprises at Jules’ Place in southeast Seminole Heights

Tampa native Julie Harris worked for the City of Tampa for 22 years, under four mayoral administrations, until retiring as director of communications and neighborhood liaison in 2003.Her familiarity with Southeast Seminole Heights and countless conta...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

Popular Spanish cuisine restaurant joins Hyde Park food scene

HYDE PARK—Featuring popular Spanish cuisine, Bulla Gastrobar compliments Soho and Hyde Park’s vibrant restaurant scene offering an authentic Madrid-inspired tapas dining experience to be shared among friends for brunch, lunch and dinner. "Tampa is gr...
Updated: 5 hours ago
Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today

Crystal Lagoon planners brace for chilly ribbon cutting today

WESLEY CHAPEL — Mother Nature seems to have a way of putting a chill on one of the hottest amenities in residential real estate development.Members of the business community, elected officials and officers with Metro Development Group and Crystal Lag...
Published: 01/18/18
Culver’s Restaurant opening two new Tampa Bay locations this spring

Culver’s Restaurant opening two new Tampa Bay locations this spring

Culver’s restaurant, a Wisconsin-based eatery, is expanding in Florida. The chain, known for its hamburgers and frozen custard, is opening new locations in St. Petersburg and Zephyrhills. A franchise agreement has also been signed for Brooksville. Cu...
Updated: 3 hours ago