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Kodak invests in DataPlay

By dpreview staff on Jun 10, 2001 at 04:00 GMT

As well as Intel and Olympus. Kodak has announced it has made an equity investment in DataPlay who has developed their tiny $10 a piece 500 MB DataPlay optical storage disc technology (also available as a single-sided 250 MB disc). In a second press release from DataPlay they confirm the Kodak investment as well as more from Intel, Olympus Optical, Imation and other key investors.

Kodak press release:

Kodak Makes Equity Investment in DataPlay, A Leading Developer of Affordable Digital Media

ROCHESTER, N.Y., June 8 -- Eastman Kodak Company announced an investment in DataPlay, Inc., a leading developer of digital storage media for portable Internet appliances and consumer electronic devices, including digital cameras.

The relationship with DataPlay provides Kodak with greater opportunity to offer products using DataPlay's low-cost storage capabilities and take advantage of the convergence of information technology and imaging.

The investment was made through the Kodak Venture group, headed by Ted Lewis, Director of Digital Business Development and Senior Vice President, Eastman Kodak Company. Kodak will receive a board observer seat with its investment.

Based on technology developed by Kodak for compact optical storage, DataPlay digital media allows access to all forms of digital content across digital devices and platforms, including images, documents, music, software, games, video and more. About the size of a quarter, DataPlay digital media is a micro-optical disc that permanently stores vast amounts of digital content, whether downloaded from the Internet or created by consumers. The digital media comes in two formats: a single-sided version with a capacity of 250 megabytes or a double-sided disc holding 500 MB. At a cost of about $10, one 500 MB digital media can hold hundreds of high-resolution photographs, 11 hours of downloaded music or five complete pre-recorded albums of CD-quality music. Working in partnership with leading content providers and consumer electronics manufacturers, DataPlay anticipates digital media containing pre-recorded music to be available beginning 4th Quarter 2001, coinciding with the availability of DataPlay-enabled consumer electronic devices and blank media.

The investment in DataPlay is Kodak's latest move in the infoimaging industry, which is driven by the convergence of images and information technology. Infoimaging unites three closely related imaging markets—services / media, such as DataPlay digital media, infrastructure and devices—that enable people to more easily use images as a fast and effective way to share pictures as information, entertainment or memories

"DataPlay's digital media will enable Kodak to offer products based on DataPlay's low-cost storage capabilities that will create new revenue streams in the infoimaging market," Lewis said. "This relationship provides Kodak the opportunity to strengthen its position in the digital photography market."

Based in Palo Alto, California, Kodak Venture's goal is to identify and invest in early-stage companies that possess technologies of high disruptive power for Kodak and to create new companies based on Kodak's intellectual property.

"Support from a global leader like the Eastman Kodak Company validates DataPlay's position as the foremost emerging digital media solution," said Rich Mohr, chief financial officer of DataPlay. "With this strategic investment from Kodak, DataPlay can more effectively execute on its strategy to be the predominant storage product in the digital camera market."

DataPlay press release:

DATAPLAY CLOSES $55 MILLION FINANCING

Kodak, Intel, Olympus and Trans World Entertainment Participate in Financing

June 8, 2001 - BOULDER, Colo. - DataPlay, Inc., announced today that it has closed a $55 million round of financing, bringing the total capital raised since the Company's inception to $119 million. This financing includes significant investments from leading consumer electronic device manufacturers, technology companies and retail distribution. DataPlay is committed to becoming a standard for the distribution and recording of digital content such as music, video, digital images, games and software in the consumer electronics marketplace.

This current round of financing includes investments from Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE: EK), Intel Capital, Olympus Optical Company, Ltd., Trans World Entertainment (NASDAQ: TWMC), meVC Draper Fisher Jurvetson Fund I (NYSE: MVC), Imation Corporation, Sequel Venture Partners, Colorado PERA, Portage Venture Partners, SG Cowen Securities Corporation, A.G. Edwards Capital, Graystone Ventures and musician David Crosby.

"DataPlay digital media is a creative, exciting technology that we expect will make a huge impact on the way people use and store digital content not only with digital cameras, but all consumer electronics," said Yusuke Kojima, Division Manager, Olympus Optical Co., LTD. "We view DataPlay as an integral part of our efforts to incorporate advanced technologies that let our customers get more use and enjoyment out of Olympus products."

The DataPlay solution includes three primary offerings: DataPlay digital media, DataPlay micro-optical engine and ContentKey™, a content distribution, marketing and e-commerce tool. DataPlay's miniature optical media, approximately the size of a quarter, allows access to all forms of digital content across all digital devices and platforms, including images, documents, software, games, video and more. One 500 MB digital media can hold over 11 hours of music downloads or five complete pre-recorded albums of CD-quality music, hundreds of high-resolution photographs or dozens of games, and will retail for around $10.

"DataPlay digital media is an ideal solution for today's technology-savvy consumer," said Robert Higgins, chairman and CEO of Trans World Entertainment, the largest specialty music retailer in the United States including FYE, Camelot, Record Town, Coconuts Music & Movies and Strawberries. "By offering DataPlay products through our retail stores, we are continuing to satisfy our customers' demand for the most advanced entertainment choices."

DataPlay's strategy to penetrate the market quickly and effectively is built upon numerous strategic partnerships for developing devices and providing content for use with the DataPlay digital media. Leading consumer electronic developers, such as Toshiba Corporation, Samsung Electronics, Olympus, Creative Labs and SonicBlue are developing portable music players/recorders, digital cameras, PC peripherals, PDAs and portable games that will support the DataPlay format. As a result of these strategic relationships, DataPlay will extend its reach to hundreds of thousands of potential consumers when the product goes to market this fall. In addition, Universal Music Group, EMI Recorded Music, BMG Entertainment and Rosetta Books are currently planning to release pre-recorded music and e-book content on DataPlay digital media for use in multiple consumer electronic devices.

DataPlay anticipates digital media containing pre-recorded content to be available by Q4 2001, coinciding with the availability of DataPlay-enabled consumer electronic devices and blank media.

"There's a tremendous amount of excitement and momentum surrounding DataPlay's technologies and products, and we're moving to capitalize on that enthusiasm by assembling strong investors and partners," said Steve Volk, chairman and CEO of DataPlay.

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