Not unexpected news came down today: Eastman Kodak has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection. The company was unable to sell more than 1,000 digital imaging patents to raise cash, but says it has financing to continue normal operation.
The Kodak website is filled with the usual Chapter 11 information — press release, FAQs, and links to court documents. According to the Associated Press, FTI Consulting is among the advisors helping during the process.
There’s also a video with the company’s CEO Antonio Perez talking about the reorganization. In it, his message is clear. This is a move towards Kodak’s future, not its demise.
Perez characterizes this filing as one that will “build the strongest possible foundation for the Kodak of the future.” He also outlines four objectives: provide stakeholders with confidence in the company, enforce Kodak’s IP rights, manage legacy costs, and invest in business growth.
He places some of the blame for the company’s situation on the recession and says the company hasn’t been paid what it’s owed. But more than anything, it sounds like Kodak will be focusing on things like digital imaging that will actually make it money.
By framing the move as a step to the future, Perez is stating plainly that the company isn’t going anywhere. It has only hit a rough patch. Moreover, talk about the future gives the world a peek into what the game plan is for a company that has clearly lost its way.
But more than anything, Kodak has something that has nothing to do with Perez: brand equity. People simply love Kodak. When they think of their old photo albums — the real live paper ones, with the old yellowing snapshots, or the crisp color photos of bygone summers or holidays — they think of this company. People associate Kodak with good things and fine memories.
We’ve heard more than once expressions of disbelief that the company that is synonymous with photo imagery, at a time when photos of anything and everything are posted online by the thousands each day, isn’t doing well. News is just in that Instagram will hit one billion photos by April, even faster than Flickr reached the mark. If Kodak gets its act together and comes back strong, it will have an audience ready to accept it with open arms.