Eastman Kodak Company (OTCMKTS:EKDKQ) announced that Jeff Clarke, the chairman of online travel agency Orbitz Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:OWW), has been elected to serve as CEO as the company that was practically synonymous with personal cameras starts its second life as a digital imaging service focusing on B2B deals. Kodak exited bankruptcy last September and became listed again after selling many of its assets to pay back its secured debt holders (and a few cents on the dollar to unsecured debt holders).
“Jeff is the right person to lead Kodak forward,” said Eastman Kodak Company (OTCMKTS:EKDKQ) chairman James Continenza. “His combination of strengths and experience in technology, transformation, finance, operations, and international business is precisely what we set out to find in the next leader of Kodak.”
Clarke has been in IT since 1985
Clarke got his start in IT at Digital Equipment Corporation (DEC) in 1985, working for the company until it was acquired by Compaq Computer, where Clarke eventually became chief financial officer. He also played an important role in Compaq’s merger with Hewlett-Packard Company (NYSE:HPQ), where he worked as executive VP of global operations. Clarke also served as chairman and CEO of Travelport, Inc., overseeing the Orbitz Worldwide, Inc. (NYSE:OWW) IPO during his time there, and was most recently a managing partner at investment firm Augusta Columbia Capital focusing on mid-cap tech companies.
Clarke will remain chairman of the board at Orbitz, and will continue serving on boards of the IT firms Red Hat, Inc. and Compuware Corporation.
Kodak’s camera business is gone
Most people credit Eastman Kodak Company’s (OTCMKTS:EKDKQ) downfall to its unwillingness to accept that the traditional cameras it had sold for decades – and the expensive film that was a big part of its business model – just didn’t have as much appeal in the age of digital photography. By the time the company realized it needed to undergo a major transformation it had already missed its opportunity.
The camera business is gone now, which may be a benefit since it allows management to focus on other strengths, but Clarke hasn’t revealed any plans for the company, saying he will spend his time “listening to Kodak’s employees, customers, partners and other stakeholders,” and the company has changed so much during bankruptcy (not to mention a full decade of decline) that investors will basically need to start fresh when evaluating its prospects.
Eastman Kodak Company’s (OTCMKTS:EKDKQ) stock price has jumped between $19.50 and $37.30 (currently $26.94) since it started being actively traded again in September, seemingly unconnected from the 2013 bull market. The stock price has fallen over the last few days, and so far the announcement that Clarke is taking the helm has failed to move the market.