The Two Kodaks

by admin on February 8, 2010

So, a couple of weeks ago, I exchanged emails with a Kodak field that I knew from waaaaay back, like the 1990s. He was always field while I was always product development. Usually when we talked, that meant something had gone really wrong. Trust me, when things are running smoothly, the product guys and the field guys never talk.

Anyways, it went something like this:

He sends me an email "Look here Pilgrim..." and points to a funny Youtube video. I email him back asking if he is still working at Kodak and...

"Yes, I am part of the thin blue line that remains. For now.
I was telling someone the other day that it is actually kind of an adventure now. Like a computer game of survival. To see how long one can last as a functioning worker before one is fired, laid off, hired away, falls into a tragic downward spiral of drink and recreational drugs, or is driven past the point of endurance to an irreversible psychotic break. Last one standing supports the Prospero."

And I say:
"I have you in my dead pool for the month of March. I hope you don't take it personally."

Him:
"Certainly not! I welcome Death's final, icy embrace. But I must inquire how you calculate such odds"

Me:
"Easy. In the last week of February, I make a post that craps on Kodak management (again) and mention what a close personal friend you are.
In March, you get canned. Power of the press m'boy. Or in the case, behold the awesome power of the Prepress Pilgrim blog."

Last word to him:
"Hmph! I'm not going to be a sucker for a rigged game. It will never work. Kodak management knows perfectly well I have no friends. Besides, I am confident they would never be so petty and vindictive to a loyal worker who bears the red and gold badge embroidered upon his Made in China service uniform."

Hah, it was great talking to them. That's one of the things I miss, is shooting the breeze with the field guys. Pretty well all of them had a good sense of humor and enormous balls, especially the workflow specialists.

Anyhow, this brings (somehow the preamble above was a bridge, trust me on  this) to the matter at hand, Kodak's last quarter. Like no kidding, they made money. No matter how they made money, that's a nice achievement for a company that won the Motley Fool worst stock of 2010 contest. I mean,  I'm right there dumping on Kodak with all the other vultures, but people are saying its worse than Fannie Mae?

There's lots of buzz saying that too much of the profit is coming from patent licensing deals and if you put that aside, there's really no growth in revenue. This is really bad, according to those financial experts with the shiny shoes and the fancy degrees who have really shown John Q. Public how clever they are in the  last few years, what with the financial crisis and all.

On the other hand, you know, if you actually own Kodak stock, it's nice to know that Samsung is paying Kodak $450 million in licensing revenue this year. Nice work if you can get it, and kudos to the Kodak suit that got that deal signed. Hey, if I ever called you guys a bunch of pinheads, I take it back.

So far, the stock has bounced back to $6, and the Motley Fool grumps have sarcastically noted that's the same price that it was 40 years ago. Sure it is, but Kodak paid dividends up until this year, and why don't you get the list of the Fortune 100 companies from 40 years ago, and tell me today how many of those guys are even in business?

Kodak's been trying to go digital since Clinton's first term, and the jury is getting awfully hungry and wants to get this over with and go home to see the kiddies. Honestly, some people just want Kodak to go bankrupt just to see the end of the drama show.  But unless the forecasting is waay off, it looks like we're gonna see Perez at the end of the year, taking shots from the analysts all over again.

Looks like I'm going to do lousy in my dead pool this spring. But hey, wait until autumn.

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