On January 19, 2012, the Eastman Kodak Company declared bankruptcy—it entered “voluntary Chapter 11 business reorganization.” Its two‐decade journey of transition from traditional photography into digital imaging was effectively over. In 1990, Kodak had launched its Photo CD system for storing photographic images; in 1991, it had introduced its first digital camera and, in 1994, its new CEO, George Fisher, had declared: “We are not in the photographic business … we are in the picture business.”
With senior executives recruited from Motorola, Apple, General Electric, Silicon Graphics, and Hewlett‐Packard, Kodak's digital imaging efforts had established some notable successes. In digital cameras, Kodak was US market leader for most of 2004–10; globally, it ranked third after Canon and Sony. It was a technological leader in megapixel image sensors. It was global leader in retail printing kiosks and digital minilabs.
Financial performance was a different story. In 1991, Eastman Kodak was America's 18th‐biggest company by revenues; by 2011, it had fallen to 334th: over the same period its employment had shrunk from 133,200 to 17,100. During 2000–11, its operating losses totaled $5.2 billion.
As Antonio Perez prepared for his new role under the supervision of Kodak's chief restructuring officer, James Mesterharm, he reflected on Kodak's two decades of decline. How could a company that had been a pioneer of digital imaging and had invested ...