Kodak’s share price more than doubled after the group announced that it planned to enter the booming area of cryptocurrency.
On the opening day of the huge CES show in Las Vegas yesterday (9 January), the group announced that it was partnering with WENN Digital, part of the London-headquartered WENN entertainment news and imagery business, to launch the KodakOne image rights management platform together with KodakCoin, described as a “photo-centric cryptocurrency”.
WENN Digital will provide its digital asset management and protection know-how as part of the deal, and a number of WENN executives are among the leadership team for the new business.
Both professional and amateur photographers are expected to use the platform to take control of their image rights and sell new and archive work. Kodak chief executive Jeff Clarke heralded the uses of secure blockchain technology and the new cryptocurrency as “solving what felt like an unsolvable problem”.
“Kodak has always sought to democratise photography and make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that,” he stated.
Kodak CEO @jeffreyjclarke and @wenndigital CEO @jan_denecke announced the @KodakOne Platform that helps photographers protect their images today at #CES2018 #KodakCES2018 #KodakCoin https://t.co/NCSyYB1OaY pic.twitter.com/oZFd5EVyzw— Kodak (@Kodak) January 9, 2018
Kodak’s share price had been in decline since the beginning of last year, when it was at $15.40 (£11.40). It fell to a then-52-week low of $3.70 after the group’s last set of quarterly results in November, when it announced immediate action to cut costs after posting a $46m loss.
Following the cryptocurrency announcement, the shares jumped from $3.15 to $7.10.
The KodakCoin cryptocurrency will be launched via an "initial coin offering" to investors from selected countries including the US, UK and Canada at the end of this month.
Cryptocurrencies have become a hot topic since the value of bitcoin, the original and best-known decentralised currency, soared at the end of last year to more than $19,000 for a single bitcoin, although the value can fluctuate wildly. Some commentators have described cryptocurrencies as a “bubble” and have likened the hype to the dotcom boom at the turn of the century.
Also on display at CES was a device branded as the Kodak KashMiner. Mining bitcoins is a hugely energy-intensive process, and Kodak plans to make use of the existing under-utilised power facilities at its Rochester campus by installing a bank of KashMiner devices for rental by members of the public, with a resulting revenue split on bitcoins that are successfully "mined".