Too Big To Fail

Innovation Insights
One of a series by Ken Tencer, Spyder Works CEO


While the assumption that a company or an industry could be “too big to fail” has been used mainly since the recent financial crisis, the notion itself has smugly resided in corporate boardrooms since the dawn of the modern corporation. “Our technology dominates the market, no need to worry,” said the buggy-whip maker to his horse.

Failure and evolution are a natural part of business, but sometimes it’s hard to watch. Sadly, we may now be witnessing the demise of a key industry giant in Kodak – a company that actually foresaw and invented the future, yet somehow managed not to learn from it.

As reported in the New York Times, “The big story here is that their core business, the yellow box business [film], got cannibalized by the digital camera, which ironically they invented,” said analyst Chris Whitmore of Deutsche Bank Securities.

The good news for investors is that Kodak’s management claims that the company is now soundly and strategically focused on digital printing technology – this in a world that is increasingly going paperless.  I don’t mean to pick on Kodak; they are not the first company or industry to resist change, nor will they be the last.

In an upcoming Innovation Insight entitled “Fueling Green,” we will look at how the auto industry is managing changing technologies very well by re-imagining their own future… and actively trying to adapt.

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