Photo by Damien Demolder

The CEO who oversaw Hasselblad’s dramatic turn of fortunes over the past two years is to step down within the next week. Perry Oosting is widely credited with extracting the company from one of the worst periods in its 75-year history by finding new investors and helping to modernize the brand’s produce offering with the H6D and X1D cameras.

Oosting was a member of Hasselblad’s Supervisory board before taking the helm in January 2015. After a long period of creative stagnation and persistent rumors of financial crisis and hostile take-overs, not to mention some very poor branding decisions, Hasselblad made some real progress under Oosting and surprised the world with the first handheld medium-format mirrorless system last year when it launched the X1D.

Oosting leaving the company comes against a background of rumors that DJI has quietly become a majority shareholder. The Chinese drone manufacturer took a ‘strategic’, but minority, stake in Hasselblad in October 2015 – a move that provided the funds needed to launch the H6D and to develop the X1D. However, the massive uptake of the new mirrorless camera system took the company by surprise and rumors suggest Hasselblad had to look to DJI for further investment so it could scale-up production to meet demand.

That the company has appointed an interim CEO suggests that Oosting’s departure wasn’t part of a long-term plan – had it been, a smoother transition would have been arranged. However, as much as Oosting is seen by some as Hasselblad’s ‘knight in shining armor’ products like the H6D and the X1D must have been on the drawing board and at some stage of planning before he took over, so the company still has the staff to continue along the current path. Paul Bram, who is to stand in as CEO, is already an advisor to the supervisory board, has been involved in decisions around the new direction and has some history with the company, while Ove Bengtson, who was the hands-on guy during the development of the new products, is still the company’s product manager.

Hasselblad hasn’t had much luck with managerial direction over the last ten or so years. It was CEO Larry Hansen who instigated the disastrous rebranding exercise with Sony that spawned the Lunar. Ian Rawcliffe, who worked under Dr. Hansen, then became CEO when Hansen was removed suddenly and quietly at the end of 2014. Rawclifffe lasted a year.

With a full order book for the X1D and many previous R&D staff back within the company Hasselblad must now be in a more healthy position than it has been since it only sold film cameras. The challenge, of course, will be to deliver the pre-ordered X1D units, develop the X series of lenses and maintain the H series at the same time – while still expanding the range of products on offer. I'm told that production of the X1D is now well on track, and was at an all-time high only yesterday.

DJI certainly knows how to create a successful business from its base and factory in China. How that experience will translate for a Swedish factory and ideology, and whether they will be hands-on or hands-off, we shall have to wait and see.

Press release

Hasselblad announces change of management structure

Gothenburg, January 2017

Hasselblad, the leader in high-quality professional medium format cameras today announced that Perry Oosting, CEO, will step down from his role by the end of this month.
Having guided Hasselblad to stability, strong sales as well as the partnership with aerial camera company DJI, CEO Perry Oosting has accomplished what he was asked to achieve and has decided to step down from his operational responsibilities and return to a role as advisor to the board.

“We would like to thank Mr Perry Oosting for his extraordinary efforts. Under his leadership a foundation for future growth is established and the company has extended its customer base substantially,” said the Supervisory Board.

“In the beginning of 2015 I was asked to take the role as CEO to secure sustainable growth and prepare the business for the next steps in its development. During 2016, we launched several new products and a complete new electronic platform. The market reaction to the strategic direction and its products were overwhelming. I would like to thank all involved and foresee a bright future for the team of Hasselblad.” said Perry Oosting.

The Board of Directors has, effective as of Feb 1, appointed Paul Bram, currently Advisor to Hasselblad, as Interim CEO.

“We are happy to announce Mr Paul Bram as an interim CEO. Paul is coming from his position within Hasselblad as Advisor and has a vast leadership experience from his time at Ericsson and Gambro,” said the Supervisory Board.

“I am honoured to take on the role as interim CEO for this iconic and much-loved company. Hasselblad represents outstanding quality, passion for fine art and pioneering technology. Over the coming months we will continue the started path and strategic direction, including accelerating R&D and software development in Gothenburg, Sweden. Going forward I am immensely proud to be part of this continuing journey. ” said Paul Bram.