Shares in iconic film company Eastman Kodak rose by 117 per cent on Tuesday as the company announced plans to put out a cryptocurrency built on blockchain technology that will help photographers share and licence their work in exchange for payment.
Kodak announced a partnership with technology firm Wenn Digital to create KodakOne, an image rights management platform that will make it easier to distribute images across the network in exchange for payment, via a new cryptocurrency called KodakCoin.
The coin will come into being via an Initial Coin Offering or ICO on January 18 for accredited investors in Canada, the U.S. and elsewhere, but shares in the company immediately shot up on the news. Shares more than doubled after word of the plan came out, hitting a peak of $7.65 US on the NYSE before finishing the day at $6.80, up $3.70.
Yesterday, those same shares were at $3.15 when stock markets closed.
The company was at one point a member of the Dow Jones Industrial Average, but was booted from that exclusive club of 30 blue chip stocks in 2004. The company subsequently underwent bankruptcy proceedings in 2013 and has seen its shares lose more than 90 per cent of their value since then.
But investors seem to have an insatiable demand for anything related to cryptocurrency at the moment, so the one-time icon jumping on the blockchain bandwagon send shares into a frenzy.
While acknowledging the timeliness of the move, the company said in a release that the move has been planned for a while.
“For many in the tech industry, ‘blockchain’ and ‘cryptocurrency’ are hot buzzwords, but for photographers who’ve long struggled to assert control over their work and how it’s used, these buzzwords are the keys to solving what felt like an unsolvable problem,” Kodak CEO Jeff Clarke said.
“Kodak has always sought to democratize photography and make licensing fair to artists. These technologies give the photography community an innovative and easy way to do just that,” Clarke said.
Kodak has become just the latest brand name company to jump on the crypto trend to send its stock soaring.
Riot Blockchain shares have tripled since October when the former biotechnology firm changed its name and said it was revising its business focus to bitcoins.
Soft drinks maker Long Island Iced Tea has more than doubled since it said it was shifting its focus to blockchain technology and changing its name to Long Blockchain Corp.
It has since emerged that the drinks company was facing the threat of being delisted from the stock market unless its market value could get above $35 million for 10 consecutive days. Below that level before, the blockchain announcement pushed it up to $70 million after, and it has remained around $60 million ever since.