As Eastman Kodak Co. continues to face financial difficulties after it filed for bankruptcy in January, the company maintains its decision to quit the photography business altogether by agreeing to sell its online photo gallery site to Shutterfly for $23.8 million.
The announcement came Thursday afternoon which states that Shutterfly, a multimedia personal publishing service, gave Kodak the offer as a stalking horse bid, meaning the $23.8 million number may help maximize the market’s interests and offers to purchase Kodak’s photography-related assets. Things could still change as other buyers may express interest and submit their offers before the acquisition process closes this later this March.
Kodak’s photo-sharing site was known as the Kodak Gallery, offering similar services to Shutterfly such as uploading photo galleries and printing custom created photo books and stationery. By the time of the company’s bankruptcy announcement, it had garnered more than 75 million users as the account came optionally with the purchase of Kodak digital cameras. If Shutterfly successfully wins the bid, Kodak Gallery will begin transferring customer data, including their account information and uploaded images, over to Shutterfly. Those with a Kodak Gallery account who do not wish for Shutterfly to have access to their private information can opt out of the transfer and download all their photos, videos and custom art onto their own computers or buy them in DVD format before the site deletes their account.
“We appreciate the loyalty of the Kodak Gallery customers in the U.S. and Canada who have entrusted us with their photo memories. We know how much they value their photos, so we will ensure that a transition is smooth and easy for them, and that their images will be preserved and protected,” said Pradeep Jotwani, president, consumer businesses and chief marketing officer of Kodak. “We are pleased that under this stalking horse agreement with Shutterfly, our customers will continue to enjoy a rewarding on-line photo experience.”
As Shutterfly continues to take on the social photo service business, it will compete with other major companies such as Hewlett Packard’s Snapfish and American Greetings’ Photoworks and Webshots brands. Several other boutique printing services such as Mpix, AdoramaPix, and giant wholesale retailer Costco and its photocenter are still some of the more customer-preferred resources as they provide cheaper services than Shutterfly and Snapfish.
Kodak will instead venture into focusing their business on home and commercial printing products, as seen in its high-quality photo printing papers and touchscreen kiosks found in various drugstores across the United States.
“We are by far the leader in retail print solutions, with an installed base that has grown now to 105,000 picture kiosks, while our consumer inkjet printers offer high-quality, affordable ink,” Jotwani said.
While we may still see the Kodak logo plastered across the yellow booths at our local drugstores, the company’s disposable cameras still remain one of the most iconic pieces of photography history.