Report: Kodak Prepping To File For Chapter 11

The new year isn’t getting off to a good start for the photo folks at Eastman Kodak Co., which is reportedly preparing to file for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection if it can’t unload a pile of its patents on buyers in the next few weeks.

According to the Wall Street Journal’s sources, Kodak, which never fully recovered from consumers’ switch from film to digital photography, is trying to talk lenders into forking over around $1 billion in debtor-in-possession to keep the company (and its approximately 19,000 employees) working during the bankruptcy process.

At the same time, Kodak is also trying to sell off around 1,100 patents to raise enough cash to stave off having to file for bankruptcy at all. The Journal reports that the patent sale-off is inevitable; it’s just a matter of if it will happen in time to prevent entering Chapter 11 or if the patents will have to be sold off through a court-supervised bankruptcy auction.

Kodak Preparing for Chapter 11 Filing [WSJ.com]

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  1. Firevine says:

    Maybe they’ll have to stop producing those awful printers so I can stop hearing customers complain EVERY SINGLE DAY about how lousy they are, but still not cut their losses on it and buy something else that we recommend to them.

    Maybe I’ll also wake up with 10 million dollars in my bank account tomorrow.

    • YouDidWhatNow? says:

      I haven’t heard any such complaints…and granted that Kodak was at least trying to be sensible about printers and ink…pricing wise…I was hoping they’d stick around.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      I thought their color printer was going to save the day with more copies and/or cheaper inks. I thought it debuted on Celebrity Apprentice. I thought the printer was a tad high at first anyway, especially competing with the 40$ Lexmarks.

  2. MrMagoo is usually sarcastic says:

    What a startling development!

  3. There's room to move as a fry cook says:

    Too bad they couldn’t adapt. Hopefully Fuji does better. The photo counters at Walmart et al are also dead zones these days.

    • mister_roboto says:

      Fuji is a much more varied company in what they produce than Kodak. They also seem to enjoy the fact they have their roots in cameras, they’ve often stated that they will be the last manufacturer of film in the world some day. Hopefully not soon.

  4. sir_eccles says:

    Decades of mismanagement, too little too late.

  5. az123 says:

    Sad thing this was lack of vision, Kodak had the ability and technology in their hands to lead the way with digital cameras way back when everyone still used film, somehow they figured that it was better to let others take the new technology and run them out of business rather than keep the new thing themselves, because it would put their film operations out of business….

    • MrEvil says:

      Some people get too nostalgic for their company’s product to see the wave of the future and shift the business accordingly. Unfortunately Nostalgia has no place in the business realm.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Actually, the first professional digital cameras WERE Kodak. Kodak sensors, digital equipment added to 35mm film bodies.

      What happened is that Canon and Nikon figured out how to produce their own sensors so they didn’t need Kodak anymore.

      At that point they should have morphed into a Qualcomm but they didn’t. Sensor improvements are still coming from the likes of Canon, Sony and Fuji. Kodak is only really supplying sensors for the medium format companies like Hasselblad or even Leica. A very niche market, with no real opportunity for growth.

    • Insert nickname here. says:

      Huh. I think the same thing is happening with the US and China – our lack of vision in getting in on the ground floor with renewable energy technology. We’ll be eating China’s lunch the entire 21st century.

    • Rachacha says:

      But doing so would have shot their core business at the time in the head. Kodak’s primary business was the sale of film and paper, and the majority of their huge plants in Rochester, NY were dedicated to that purpose. Pushing digital would have cut out their heart to save their baby toe. They jumped into digital only after it started gaining mass appeal, but by then they were considered “old school”. They have been able to survive for so long due to professionals who used their paper, and some consumers who were still hanging on to film products as well as disposable cameras, however using my non-techno parents as the gauge, they have changed over to digital, so their film and paper business is essentially dead, and as most consumers are using their cell phones as their cameras, the consumer digital market is dying as well.

      I want Kodak to succeed as their success will impact the quality of life in my home town, but I fear the end is near.

  6. Worstdaysinceyesterday says:

    Better stock up on ink for the Kodak printer I just bought. I knew I should have gotten a different brand, but the Mr wanted to support Kodak. meh

    • Keith is checking the Best Buy receipt of a breastfeeding mother (for tips!) says:

      Be aware that inkjet carts, even sealed, only have a shelf life of a couple of years. YMMV of course, depending on the design I guess.

  7. sakanagai says:

    This story has been developing for about an hour now. The execs still picture the exposure will increase consumer awareness and shutter at least some of the negatives. Film at 11.

    • nybiker says:

      +1.

      Just wondering what will become (as in who will pay for the naming rights) of their theatre in Los Angeles? You know, the one where the Academy Awards are held every year.

      • scoosdad says:

        It’s the Kodak Theatre in name only. Owned by the CIM Group, Kodak put up $75 mil for the naming rights when it was built. So Kodak won’t do anything other than wish they had some of their $75 million back in the bank.

        I would imagine the owners have some sort of clause in their contract that says they can put the naming rights out to bid again if something happens to Kodak.

        • scoosdad says:

          Kodak Theater trivia- the famed red carpet approach to the Oscars actually goes through a shopping mall. The storefronts are all draped to hide the fact that there’s really an Orange Julius at the foot of the grand staircase. (Well not an Orange Julius really, but you get the picture).

          I’ve taken the tour and it’s a spectacular venue, one of the largest stages in the US.

    • Caprica Six says:

      I had to read that twice and finally got it! +1

    • Dr.Wang says:

      That was so bad, made me chuckle. Thanks.

  8. Cat says:

    Oh, Rochester, why can’t your businesses stop screwing up?

    Kodak invented the digital camera.
    Xerox invented the personal computer.

    Management at both companies lacked the vision to take their technologies and run with them.

    As goes Kodak, so does Rochester. Will the last person leaving please turn out the lights?

    • gman863 says:

      At least they still have Wegman’s…

      • Cat says:

        A job at a grocery store, even Wegmans, ≠ a job at Xerox or Kodak.

        I know lots of people who earned a hell of a good living at Xerox and Kodak. You know, the kind of job where being a one-income household was possible, not the kind that provides a second paycheck.

        • Rachacha says:

          Well, let’s take a tally and see what we have left:

          Xerox – Hanging on, but a shell of what they used to be.
          Kodak – Probably going to die
          Bausch & Lomb – Still hanging on, but only a fraction of what they used to be
          Paychex – I think they are doing fine, but the unemployment rate is probably impacting their profits.
          Wegmans – Growing & expanding, although as they expand, the majority of new jobs is closer to their new distribution center in Pennsylvania as well as thei new stores
          Genesee Brewery – I suspect that they are struggling, and they have failed to really gain national traction
          Abbotts Frozen Custard – Yumm, but the lines have been declining over the years
          Zweigle’s Hot Dogs – The expansion of Wegmans is helping this brand
          Bill Grays Hamburgers – Yumm,
          Nick Tahoes – Yum

          So let’s see, we have a grocery store, a brewing company, an Ice cream shop, a Hot Dog manufacturer and 2 hamburger joints. Either Rochester will be known as the food city, or every resident will have no choice but to eat so much and gain so much weight that Charlotte beach will fall into the lake and the entire city will be under water. As much as I want to see each of these businesses expand and prosper where I now live, I have seen the people of Rochester, so I am going to be purchasing some soon to be beach front property along the NY State Thruway.

    • nocturnaljames says:

      invention doesn’t matter, being innovative in making a successful product does, there’s a big difference.

  9. ole1845 says:

    It’s rare for a company to adapt and change to a new technology. Meanwhile HP makes billions in profit off printing and printing supplies. It’s about the only bright spot within HP.

    • jessjj347 says:

      Whoah…methinks you need to research the history of HP…that is certainly not their core business.

    • Saltpork says:

      Their server market fairs pretty well as the products they produce work and are competitively priced.

      Their business product lines are okay. It’s their consumer stuff that stinks up the place.

  10. jrwn says:

    I happen to like my kodak printer. When are they going to have their fire sale so I can get ink at half price?

  11. El_Fez says:

    Thing is – the film division is going pretty strong. Kodak recently told Variety that its film business was still profitable and quite viable.

    “We’re still making billions of feet of film and will continue to do so,” Ingrid Goodyear, vice president of marketing said. “For the foreseeable future we still see film to be an important part of Kodak’s business.”

  12. The Lone Gunman says:

    I feel like a dinosaur watching the asteroid get closer and closer.

    I grew up shooting film, and learned how to develop and print both B&W and color–all the darkroom stuff with chemicals and so forth. Made some really good images over the years.

    Now I shoot digital, as do so many others, and the barrier to entry in photography has become so low as to be nonexistent…and all the background learning, making mistakes and then learning from them how to be a better shooter are all gone.

    • Jimmy60 says:

      I completely disagree. All the same learning and mistakes are there with digital except for what relates directly to film. You can do more experimenting with digital in five minutes than you could in five hours with emulsion based photography. We still judge images the same way as before.

      I spent nine years in a custom lab and the simple fact alone that digital is dust free is worth dropping film over. The only skill I’d say I brought to digital from film is that I rarely miss getting the right exposure. That does come from shooting lots of slide film where exposure is very critical. All that means is that rarely shoot RAW.

      This reduction in the barrier of entry is a good thing.

    • Clyde Barrow says:

      @The Lone Gunman; ahhhhhh yes, the darkroom. They’ll never be another place like the darkroom. I remember making prints in junior high school and it was the coolest, most solitary room in the world where I could be alone and make pictures and it was fun.

      The smell of the chemicals, paper, film, and the red light live on!

  13. jeni1122 says:

    This has been coming for a long time. Their just isn’t anything that differentiates Kodak in the digital camera field other than price. Kodak used to send me a couple of demo cameras every once in a while to play with. Honestly, their cameras are not that bad compared to some of the other less expensive cameras, but the company cannot exist on beginner to mid grade cameras forever and their are too many great high end players to really move in that direction as well.

    I know the film industry is making a small but steady comeback. That could be a good area for them for refocus on. It will never keep them completely out of bankruptcy, but it is something to think about. Especially if they decided to bring back some of the popular discontinued film or if they could formulate a good “green” film option.

  14. Lisa W says:

    A sad development indeed. Unfortunately, it’s not shocking. The company never really seemed to evolve with the times.

  15. Bruce W says:

    How sad that the company that invented the digital camera should be bankrupted by the digital camera. They must have followed the Polaroid business guide. Oh so sad.

  16. framitz says:

    A real shame. I still have Kodak’s first megapixel digital camera and have yet to see any camera match the color accuracy of that early effort. Many competitors producing less expensive equipment. Hopefully they sold the software algorithms on.

    • ShruggingGalt says:

      Which model? Just curious, maybe it’s not a Bayer sensor.

      If Foveon had the funding they *should* be the best sensor on the market, mainly because their sensor closely replicates film by having color sensitive layers (just like film!) rather than the Bayer pattern of color sensors (or Fuji with the color sensors and the white highlight sensors)

  17. Razor512 says:

    Well they did like to use proprietary crap long with overpriced cameras.

    Check out reviews for their digital cameras, they are often priced above many other competing/ more well known camera brands such as canon and nikon.

    For their lower cost items, they resorted to gimmicks which dragged their name through the mud. eg a $50 camera that was listed at 12 megapixel but offered less detail than a older gen 3 megapixel camera

  18. RiverStyX says:

    Good, these guys are complete jerks! I bought a digital camera on clearance a while ago and it fell like 3 inches down off a mini-tripod. The lcd screen cracked, what a piece of shit, and I sent it in under warranty.

    Fast forward 2 weeks, Im checking status that its being repaired, im thinking “Cool, they’re taking care of it” then 2 weeks after that status, it showed “Waiting for customer approval”. They never sent me any emails regarding approval, and it just stayed at that status for a long time.

    Finally i emailed them and asked what was up and they wanted like $60 to fix the screen. I only paid $25 for the camera (Marked down from $100), what a bunch of dirtbags! So I told them to send it back and they never did.

    So fine, I hope these LOSERS die in a fire for not honoring their warranty and trying to fleece me out of that money only after I asked what the holdup was.

    Even my grandfather agrees that Kodak is a shadow of its former self, and he generally likes everyone.

  19. gman863 says:

    If Kodak wants to raise some quick cash, all they need to do is start prostituting (licensing) the Kodak name to other companies.

    How this currently is working for other companies:

    * Can’t afford a $12,000 Sportster or $20K Road King? No worries. Harley-Davidson is still making money off the “officially licensed” t-shirts, teddies, toys and other biker creep people are still spending money on.

    * If you see (or purchased) a Philips TV manufactured in the past two years, the only thing “Philips” is the name, now licensed by off-brand manufacturer Funai.

    * Polaroid died years ago, but the zombie name lives on through trademark licensing agreements on memory cards and the Chinese rebirth of the SX70 instant cameras and film.

  20. JonBoy470 says:

    With film, you had consumables. As you used your camera, you bought more film for it, and paid to have the pictures developed, and the place that developed them used Kodak equipment and Kodak supplies. Today, people shoot digital, and there aren’t those ongoing consumables. Digicam consumables (batteries, memory cards, inkjet photo printers, ink carts and photo paper) either aren’t very consumable, or Kodak didn’t benefit from first mover advantage, as they were too busy tending to their legacy film customer base. Duracell/energizer own the battery market not already subsumed by proprietary Li Ion batteries. SD cards are Chinese made commodities that are infinitely reusable. And by the time Kodak got around to rolling out a line of home inkjet photo printers they discovered that HP had gotten there a decade ago and owned the market, with epson lexmark and canon fighting for the scraps. the only way to gain any reaction was to give the ink away, thus skipping the “profit” step of the printer business model.

  21. Clyde Barrow says:

    When I was a kid, my mom owned that camera model shown in the picture. Ahhh the good ole days.

  22. Jimothy says:

    I have a waterproof camcorder from them. It got water into it. They asked me on the Q&A if it had been exposed to water and sand… Hahah…

  23. AllanG54 says:

    This is what happens when you take Paul Simon’s Kodachrome away.

  24. code65536 says:

    Not surprising. Their digital cameras consistently have the worst image quality I have ever seen (horrible sensors). There have been times when I look at a picture and I can just tell that it was taken by a Kodak.

    Their former chief competitor, Fujifilm, adapted much better. In fact, sensors is kind of their specialty, in the world of compacts. Their lenses aren’t much, but their sensors are among the best.

  25. Kestris says:

    I’d heard rumors of their filing before, but this still makes me sad. All my cameras have been Kodaks and I’ve been lucky to have never had any issues with them, or their printers.

  26. cynner says:

    I knew the end was coming with they got rid of the peregrine falcon webcam on their Rochester headquarters.