What’s a 130-year-old photo company doing dabbling in cryptocurrency? Either revolutionizing digital rights management or trying to make a quick buck.
An eon or two ago, Eastman Kodak was a bleeding-edge technology company. It hired the smartest engineers and put them to work racking up patents, pioneering new chemical processes and building a globe-spanning camera and film business that, at its peak, employed 145,000 people.
But the digital photo age passed Kodak by, and today, the Rochester, N.Y., company exists mostly in the past tense. Many of the patents have been sold, , buildings have been rented out or demolished, and the company has continued to shrink since it filed for bankruptcy in 2012.
Now, the 130-year-old company is trying an unlikely sort of comeback — one built by betting on cryptocurrency. It’s a bold gamble that has excited some investors, perplexed others and raised questions about whether Kodak was wading into dubious business deals in search of growth.
This month, Kodak lent its name to a digital currency called KodakCoin, which is billed as “a photo-centric cryptocurrency” to empower photographers and agencies to take greater control in image rights management.” The basic idea behind KodakCoin is to use the blockchain to help photographers manage their collections by creating permanent, immutable records of ownership. The company also struck a licensing deal for a Bitcoin-mining computer called the Kodak KashMiner, which allows users to generate their own cryptocurrency.