Meyer Optik Görlitz’s Bankruptcy Shows Kickstarters Don’t Always Work

Here’s an important update for backers of several Kickstarter campaigns for brands under Net SE, including Meyer Optik Görlitz.

If you backed any of the Kickstarter and Indiegogo campaigns of NetSE for vintage brands like Meyer Optik Görlitz, Ihagee Elbaflex, and Oprema Jena, chances are you won’t get any of your money back, as the company already filed for bankruptcy a few months back. But there seems to be some hope at least for Meyer Optik Görlitz to continue, as another German optics company has recently acquired the trademark rights to the brand. In this case, there is a bit of good for the backers. But for a number of other Kickstarter campaigns out there, it seems like things just don’t always work unless they’re from some sort of established company.

According to a report by Photo Rumors, the brand is now owned by OPC Optics (Precision Components Europe GmbH), an optics and lens specialist founded in 2016 and currently based in Bad Kreuznach. The company acquired all trademark rights for the Meyer Optik Görlitz brand at the insolvency procedure of NetSE (which also carried the brands A. Schacht and Emil Busch A.-G. Rathenau) in Koblenz.

The report also shared a Google translated press release, which announced OPC Optics’ plan for plucking the brand out of bankruptcy. According to the document:

“It was unfortunate to watch as Meyer Optik Görlitz, after the successful restart in 2014, through quality fluctuations, the many, partly parallel crowdfunding projects on various platforms, pre-sales of unpublished lenses through its own website and prolonged delays, more and more reputation in the market has lost. nevertheless, we see for us now has the opportunity to establish a German brand of photography professionally and successfully,” says Timo Heinze, Managing OPC Optics. “To do this we will pursue a definitely different, more conservative approach and have not adopted crowdfunding or offer pre-sales of products. One has to be manufacturers simply take the time to make such a mark up, so that its own capacity grows accordingly and consistently high can ensure quality. “

This sounds like a proper revival that the iconic Meyer Optik Görlitz deserves, whose reputation — as noted by Heinze above — has been tarnished by the numerous Kickstarter campaigns gone down the drain. For Kickstarter backers wondering if there’s a chance that OPC Optics will pick up the back log of orders or refunds, the press release says that all outstanding receivables from customers and suppliers still remain with Net SE. And at least this time around, it worked.

There are numerous times where it simply didn’t work though:

  • All the analog film products designed to bridge digital and film still have yet to really come to fruition. Many that we’ve reported on
  • Various new papers like some from Galaxy that apparently faded away
  • A number of lenses

And these are just crowd funded projects that are in the photo world. Otherwise, it’s very difficult to see how many Kickstarter projects could work out. In the end, it just creates very angry backers who are often promised a fantastic product that Kickstarter refuses to take responsibility for.

At the same time, I highly doubt that certain companies need to go to Kickstarter. Lomography and Peak Design are two such companies that at this point positively don’t need the marketing or the dollars. Instead, they could simply just host their own pre-sales. Arguably, what went wrong with Meyer Optik is too many Kickstarter launches at once and not enough focus on creating the products. Their products are unique enough on the market although folks may argue that the original optics are superior to the newly engineered versions. What’s more, there are so many lens options on the camera market today and finding a way to stand out from the pack is imperative.

In contrast to Meyer Optik, I’d like to bring up a company that doesn’t really feed into the Kickstarter world but that still creates good and interesting optics: Lensbaby. They’ve been around for the better part of 10 years and have proven that they can continue to churn out products.

As a man that has run his own Kickstarter campaigns too, I have to say that it’s also responsibility of the manufacturer to be transparent with their backers.