Kodak made a lot of waves at CES, but they appear to have been pretty shady in the process.
So, unless you were living under a rock over the last few days you have no doubt heard about Kodak’s two big CES announcements regarding their own Cryptocurrency for photographers and the new Bitcoin mining service they were launching. If you didn’t hear because of the news itself, you likely heard because the announcement sent Kodak shares soaring something like 250% after the announcement.
But what you definitely didn’t hear about (and that we were only made aware of this morning via MarketWatch) was that apparently on January 8th, the day before the big announcements, seven members of Kodak’s board of directors had acquired derivative securities (which are convertible into common stock); this according to SEC filings. So, in other words, the day before this major announcement many members of the board of directors got in a position to take advantage of the growth in Kodak stock when the announcements hit the following day.
In fact, of those seven directors, two of them made stock sales on the 9th, and two more of them converted the derivatives they had just acquired and converted them into stock before selling them. So, four of the seven directors of Kodak made money on the announcement – the first two with stocks they apparently already owned (not the derivatives they had just acquired) and the other two made money directly on the derivatives they had acquired the previous day, presumably with knowledge that the announcement would be coming the next day.
We know about this because of SEC filings so, if this trips any wires at the SEC in terms of being illegal, we are sure we will hear about it soon. But even if this doesn’t run up against anything illegal (as market manipulation or whatever), you can’t deny this looks incredibly shady and unethical. If this was one member of the board, ok, but the fact that seven members did this and that four benefited from it (two more directly than others). It certainly looks worse – at least from our perspective.
But add to that the fact that these Bitcoin mining rentals the company is promoting are actually more likely to cost owners thousands instead of making them thousands as Kodak is promising (according to this Life Hacker piece)– it’s looking like Kodak’s CES game plan was effectively shady all around. Which is a real shame, because the cryptocurrency portion could no doubt be a great idea and tool for photographers.
Kodak’s shares are dropping again today now that the hype about the cryptocurrency is fading. But really, we expect better from Kodak, and it’s sad they have apparently had to stoop to being shady like this in order to make a buck.
Hat tip to Pano for bringing this to our attention