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This article was published on November 20, 2018

Kodak-licensed ICO allegedly owes developers over $100K in unpaid invoices

What a mess

Kodak-licensed ICO allegedly owes developers over $100K in unpaid invoices
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It seems there is yet another massive internal strife brewing up in the blockchain space. KodakOne – a cryptocurrency project that promised to bring photographers a new stream of revenue – purportedly owes thousands of dollars in outstanding invoices to contractors the firm recruited to build the platform.

In a series of email exchanges reviewed by Hard Fork, a group of contractors has accused KodakOne for failing to pay up their contracting fees in the agreed timeframe. The contractors are collectively seeking to receive over $125,000 in accumulated invoices, according to an email sent by a UK-based law firm on their behalf.

“Unfortunately apologies and unfulfilled promises of a payment proposal are not enabling my client to pay the people that did the work for [KodakOne],” the email shared with Hard Fork read. “Time is short and in the absence of any meaningful payment proposal, court proceedings will be commencing in [seven] days.”

The email was sent on behalf of European recruiting agency iFindTech, which purportedly helped KodakOne find talent to build its platform. The email was sent by law firm London Law Practice on October 26.

(We have since reached out to iFindTech and London Law Practice to see if there have been any developments with the KodakOne situation. We will update this piece accordingly if we hear back.)

Indeed, the email exchanges show that at some point iFindTech reps advised contractors to cease work on KodakOne until all owed funds have been paid out.

“All claims are in dispute and these legal matters will only be solved in front of the courts,” a KodakOne spokesperson told Hard Fork when asked about the allegations.

The KodakOne plot thickens

In addition to iFindTech, at least two other contractors are looking into starting legal action against KodakOne for unpaid invoices. One of the contractors is asking for over $19,000 in overdue payments, according to an email reviewed by Hard Fork.

Another contractor, Armel Nene, is similarly looking to settle outstanding invoices with KodakOne, after he was referred to the company by iFindTech. Nene told Hard Fork he is owed funds in the excess of $36,000.

Nene has also documented his grievances with KodakOne in a blog post, where he sums up how he came to work on the platform – and why he left the company (spoiler: it was because of the overdue payments).

I go straight to the point, this article details how Ryde, Wenn Digital and [KodakOne] are using the blockchain hype to scam investors and employees of hundreds of thousands of euros,” Nene wrote.

KodakOne has since denied those claims in an email to Hard Fork. “This is a false statement,” a company spokesperson told us. “We will reserve all rights to take the necessary legal steps to stop Mr. Nene for making more wrong claims and further damaging our company.”

“It is unfortunate that Mr. Armel Nene, a contractor contracted through a third party, has decided to post his issues across social media and that somebody who has delivered unsatisfactory work, is taking these measures,” the spokesperson further told Hard Fork. “This is a legal dispute and all invoices are in dispute. We are contesting his work and subsequent invoices.”

We are taking legal action against him and have handed this over to our lawyers. They are evaluating further legal measures that will be taken against Mr. Nene.”

The KodakOne backstory

KodakOne first made waves after it announced it is running an initial coin offering (ICO) to raise funds for a photography distribution and intellectual property platform. In addition to the platform, KodakOne planned to roll out its own cryptocurrency, called KodakCoin.

The project was reportedly overseen by Wenn Digital and RYDE Holdings (both of which now redirect to KodakOne’s site). The companies were able to keep the Kodak branding thanks to a licensing deal.

This is a big deal,” Kodak global chief marketing officer Steven Overman told Hard Fork back in January when the deal was first announced. “Science and technology in the service of human creativity and self-expression has always been at the heart of Kodak, and this licensing agreement is evidence of this ongoing mission.”

Indeed, Kodak’s stock swiftly jumped over 200 percent in value after the announcement. Kodak stock value has since dwindled significantly, but it is still slightly up from January.

But since then, it appears things have gone downhill for KodakOne.

While KodakOne execs are still actively promoting their project at blockchain events around the world, development seems to have stalled. The company “announced” it is launching a new “post-licensing portal” for their platform in at an event in October, but the implementation is still not available on its website.

Similarly, details around KodakOne’s ICO remain shady. After a holdup with the US Securities and Exchange Commission, Fortune reported the company is looking to raise $50 million in May. Critics have since cast doubt on those claims – as well as the success of the ICO.

Months after the launch in January and the ICO in May, KodakOne’s cryptocurrency KodakCoin is nowhere to be found on exchange desks either.

Whatever the case is though, KodakOne’s progress has been mired in delays and controversy so far – and the string of legal disputes levied against the company is likely to extend this unfortunate spree.

Back in June, reports noted that – after the massive boom in the cryptocurrency market at the end of 2017 and the beginning of 2018 – thousands of blockchain projects have failed this year. And unless KodakOne’s management reacts promptly to the chaos, we might have to file in yet another entry to the coin graveyard.

In the meantime, KodakOne seems determined to fight for its reputation (or warn others against tarnishing it).

In the event that further defamation against RYDE or KODAKOne continues,” a spokesperson told Hard Fork, “we reserve the right to take legal action also against all parties who are involved and hold them also responsible for all damages caused as a result of this social media campaign.”

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