Kara Swisher

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Kara Visits Kodak, Part 1

kodak

So I took a trip up to Rochester, N.Y., over the summer to visit Kodak, the once powerful film giant, which has been struggling in recent years to make the difficult transition from film to digital.

I made a few videos there and then neglected to post them in the rush of other breaking news.

But this glimpse at the declining city Kodak once ruled, along with an interview with Philip Faraci, who was recently named President and COO for all of Eastman Kodak, is illuminating as the company tries to transform itself drastically. (In a side note, Faraci previously worked at Hewlett-Packard for a little more than two decades.)

Here is the first video with Faraci:

That’s a lot harder when you are talking about a business with such a massive legacy as Kodak has carried, even though it was once considered to be the tech marvel of the day. That’s especially true when it is compared to its current competitors, the shape-shifting digital entrepreneurs of Silicon Valley.

Under current CEO Antonio Perez (also a former H-P exec), whom I interviewed at D4 in 2005, Kodak has been trying to dig itself out of a hole and into consistent profitability. (Full disclosure: Kodak has been a regular sponsor of the D: All Things Digital conference that I run with Walt Mossberg.)

That shift has obviously been painful, including huge cuts in its employee base, due to the sharp decline of its market might. Since 2004, Kodak has cut its employee head count from about 64,000 to 30,600 as it has undergone a massive restructuring.

Things are looking up, though. In its most recent quarter, reported in early November, Kodak had a profit on a small sales decline. Its digital sales, from products like inkjet printers and digital cameras, rose to $1.59 billion, up 12%, and represented 60% of revenue. Film-based revenue was down 16%, to $698 million.

Whatever happens, Kodak is an interesting tech turnaround to watch.

(Here is my second Kodak video.)


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I think the NSA has a job to do and we need the NSA. But as (physicist) Robert Oppenheimer said, “When you see something that is technically sweet, you go ahead and do it and argue about what to do about it only after you’ve had your technical success. That is the way it was with the atomic bomb.”

— Phil Zimmerman, PGP inventor and Silent Circle co-founder, in an interview with Om Malik