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Enri Marini
Enri Marini

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Kodak Continenza and Corruption

Meet Jim Continenza, Kodak’s glorious grifter in chief.

Although this expose is targeted specifically at Kodak, the corruption we are about to discuss is merely a symptom of a larger issue within manufacturing. Jim Continenza is a perfect symbol of the state of industrial automation today – a noble profession sadly overrun by large scale racketeering rings reminiscent of mafia mob rule.

Organizations that are supposed to protect against such predatory behavior – including but not limited to the International Society of Automation (ISA), CESMII, OPC Foundation, Association for Advancing Automation (A3), IEEE, Industry IoT Consortium (IIC), Manufacturing Enterprise Solutions Association (MESA) - consistently fail to serve & protect anyone but their own special interests. As long as they get their member dues and partnerships with major OEMs/systems integrators, then all is forgiven.

The behaviors exhibited by industry associations remind me a lot of how the cult of Scientology operates with its “religious auditing sessions”, where people openly admit on camera & in writing the heinous criminal acts they have committed and Scientology grants them forgiveness for a fee.

Jim Continenza was appointed CEO and chairman of Kodak during a period of relative prosperity as the company emerged from bankruptcy, though he had been part of the board for much longer. Publicly, he credits himself with this turnaround, but a closer look reveals a strategy of overleveraging with high-interest Wall Street loans and dubious attempts to inflate stock prices through fictitious business division announcements.

Following the wake of the failed pharma deal during the Trump presidency, Continenza landed himself a botched attempt at insider trading, with one of his cronies thrown in jail for aiding & abetting in Continenza’s white collar crimes.

Join me in this rollercoaster ride as I show you yet again how rampant & normalized corruption is within industrial automation. Yet again, we will see a racketeering ring trying to prop up a fake business, this time in the “life sciences” vertical, and the countless red flags along the way that should have signaled industry associations and law enforcement to take action & stop the destruction of innocent lives and the Rochester community at large.

For those wondering, no, this is NOT an example of a failed attempt at digital transformation due to “bad digital strategy or lack thereof”. This is not a singular case of a “bad apple”. As you will soon see, it takes an entire cast of characters to pull off such atrocities. The expose I did on Li-Cycle is not a case study in failed “digital strategy” either. These are not isolated incidents.

Doublespeak like “digital strategy” is a cope to avoid addressing the elephant in the room – which is that all “digital transformation” initiatives miserably fail due to racketeering & disavowal of open source. Even so-called digitally mature companies suffer unnecessary pain due to malicious actors internally and externally systematically steering the organization away from the open source ethos and into unholy alliances with industry associations to pull off their rackets.

Background on Jim Continenza – A History of Financial Fraud

Before we begin, it’s important to lay out the whole cast of characters involved in this story. First up we have Jim Continenza, who, prior to joining Kodak, served as the CEO of a search engine optimization marketing company called Vivial. Even after Continenza was appointed CEO & chairman of the board for Kodak, he retained his CEO position at Vivial. Although it’s severely frowned upon to hold CEO positions at 2 companies simultaneously, it is technically NOT illegal in New York State. However, the issue begins when you use your CEO position at one company to exclusively hire top-rank staff at the other company you serve as CEO in. This is a major conflict of interest and this is exactly what Jim Continenza did.

Enter Jim Barnes. Jim Barnes is, by his own admission, a sales/marketing guy. His public LinkedIn profile and public bio on Kodak’s website says just as much. He brings zero technology experience, especially in matters concerning the complex process manufacturing & advanced materials sector that Kodak operates in. Despite all this, Jim Barnes was directly personally hired by Continenza to be Kodak’s new “Chief Implementation Officer”, a nonsensical title bestowed to him in an attempt to provide legitimacy to the exclusive shilling of SAP products/services all across Kodak, in exchange for receiving kickbacks from SAP & channel providers for doing so.

The strangest thing about Vivial, who now calls themselves “Thryve”, is that they exclusively market themselves to small businesses to aid with their SEO and social media presence. Vivial exclusively dealt with CRM technologies meant for small business use. What competency do they have then in being hired to handle complex computer systems fit for use within industrial automation?

Jim Barnes was not the only character brought on from Vivial. Continenza also moved to hire Jeanne Hilley to be Kodak’s new VP of Human Resources. Soon thereafter, Continenza filled his top brass with Vivial employees.

This isn’t even the worst of it. The Attorney General’s office already arrested a top Kodak VP for aiding & abetting with insider trading during the phase that Kodak was trying to receive government funds to prop up a “pharma” business. The pitch was that Kodak, being a chemical company, would manufacture various precursors necessary in the fabrication of finished pharmaceutical drugs. Kodak would simply be a raw material supplier; the processing would be done by other biotech/pharma companies.

The real reason this never came to fruition is because Kodak does not have the physical infrastructure or process know-how to fabricate such products. They do not have a state-of-the-art cleanroom facility required to pull this off and they do not have the necessary computer systems to provide rigorous batch tracking that the FDA requires.

This lack of digital systems is a direct cause of Kodak’s corrupt bed-ties with SAP and big-name process control OEMs who have shilled proprietary SCADA and DCS solutions. I will give some credit where it is due – Kodak is the first of its kind (to a small degree) because they do have legacy proprietary process controllers & SCADA software that necessitate custom gateway devices to stream data into a modern system of choice. Some process controllers (at least at Kodak Park) are custom built by Kodak with Kodak-branded operating systems.

In the end, the government funds never came and Continenza was caught offloading tens of thousands of shares in this massive grift to capitalize on the hype surrounding this potential deal. As if that’s not bad enough, Continenza doubles down on his path of criminality by attempting to cut ties between Vivial and Kodak so that his cronyism of onboarding dozens of Vivial staff into top leadership positions at Kodak seemed more legitimate. He tried to spin off a new company to offload liabilities from Vivial to make it seem like Vivial did not really have as heavy of a hand in lining Kodak with all Vivial staff.

What was the name of this newly spun company? SpinCo. Literally, this guy called his new spin off company designed to serve as a shell company the same as the verb of creating a fake spinoff company. Just because someone engages in criminal activity does not mean they are an Einstein-level genius.

Anyway, with that out of the way, let’s get down to the technology explanations.

My Origins With Kodak

I was randomly recruited by Kodak through sheer luck via LinkedIn. It honestly is just that simple. I wish I could tell you that the origin story contained some cooler spin to it but alas it does not.

I was told by all interviewees that Kodak was undergoing a massive digital transformation initiative internally and wanted my help to lead the manufacturing operations through this transition. They took an interest in my process automation & software development background, so I passed through prying eyes.

Immediately after landing, I began meeting with all stakeholders – leadership & frontline staff from manufacturing, IT leadership & frontline staff, and executives. It was clear to me that there was some semblance of a shared message – that Kodak was hungry for proof-of-concept projects to demonstrate the art of the possible in today’s digital landscape and to sunset legacy software systems. Most importantly, that there was money to spend on said initiatives.

My first project was developing a straightforward endpoint asset management tracker within the Microsoft Office365 ecosystem, specifically a Forms app integrated into Teams, complete with various notifications and reporting capabilities.

Shortly into this project, I quickly heard news that Kodak had hired an external consultancy called Vivial, who was instantiating a man by the name of Jim Barnes with the title “Chief Implementation Officer”. I was genuinely shocked; this was news even to me. I had literally just met with Kim, Kodak’s CTO, not too long before this announcement and we had just discussed some potential use cases for proof-of-concept projects that would demonstrate the inextricable link of OT and IT.

It was from this point on that I knew something deeply corrupt was going down behind the scenes, so I set out to uncover it. Looking back now, I did get a spooky indicator that this nonsense would be taking place. The night before the announcement of Jim Barnes’ arrival, I received an automated unsolicited email from the Kodak career portal notifying me that I had been rejected for the job I held at the time. It was the strangest thing ever, since I had already signed my terms of employment and Kodak had already agreed and I never received any other follow-up on it.

I'm sure at one point, Kodak was a prominent institution worth working for. I can confidently say that after touring all 3 major companies that all of my college professors worked for and had a hand in building up industry across New York State, I am genuinely not impressed. In fact, I am ashamed to have them in my community.

The Barnes Firm

I came to find that this instantiation of Jim Barnes as the “Chief Implementation Officer” quite literally came out of left field – no one (from Kim or any of the other IT and OT leadership/executives) expected Jim Barnes’ arrival.

My colleagues and I quickly dubbed this newly formed gang between Continenza and Barnes as “The Barnes Firm”. Kodak quickly began doing the restructuring/reorganization shuffle. It was pandemonium to say the least. All the trust I had worked to build up between both the IT and OT realms dissolved overnight at the introductory all-hands call led by Jim Barnes.

During this kick-off meeting, Jim Barnes stated that as part of his arrival, a new Project Management Office (PMO) would be created. Having literally just passed my PMP certification exam, I took this opportunity to test Jim Barnes’ project management skills. I asked, as any competent project manager would, what type of PMO was he intending to create. Was it a supportive PMO? An activist PMO? A controlling PMO? What specific category of PMO would this be?

For those that may not be familiar with project management terminology, all you have to know is that this question is something any rookie project manager worth their salt should be able to answer in a heartbeat. It’s as easy as asking what 5 plus 5 is. Barnes was absolutely shocked that anyone would ever know enough to ask him such a specific question where his own words were being used against him. Needless to say, he never answered the question.

It was right there and then that I lost all respect and trust in what was conspiring.

What followed next were a series of edicts by Barnes himself on the new course he mandated Kodak to follow for its digital transformation journey. Kodak would now officially be ruled with an iron fist whereby only SAP technology would be considered & anyone mentioning anything to the contrary should be formally documented as a “incident report”.

I quickly set out to contact as many companies as I could that provide various services for hosting & managing technologies used in modern digital infrastructure that do not fall under the umbrella of big-names like Rockwell/Siemens and so on. I did so to ensure formal documentation of Kodak’s new leadership demonstrating a pattern of behavior refusing to listen to any alternatives to SAP.

As you probably already guessed, all of these attempts were rejected without hesitation. I expected as much, the point was to conduct due diligence and permanently write the interaction in Kodak’s record.

OT stakeholders were genuinely shell-shocked at this sudden change of direction & received no guidance on what to expect next. Some IT stakeholders were happy given that they had no SAP basis knowledge & therefore no expectation of supporting this new initiative. Others not so much, especially since the security & SAP basis team at Kodak consisted only of a mere skeleton crew. Regardless, no one was safe from the impending hemorrhaging of millions of dollars. In total, when all is said and done, there were at least 3 dozen consultants that Kodak procured to oversee all of these SAP initiatives spanning the 3 years I spent there.

According to public forums like Glassdoor, the average annual salary for an SAP consultant (excluding benefits packages) is $150k. These consultants are typically hired on an hourly basis and I can assure you they definitely worked up lots of overtime. It’s safe to say, just on consultant salary alone, Kodak spent tens of millions.

A New Grifter Joins The Battle - Accenture

No white collar crime story is complete without Accenture, who was selected to be the channel provider to “aid” Kodak through its digital destruction, err I mean transformation, journey.

Accenture, in their infinite wisdom, recommended a portfolio of projects incredibly large in scope without ever consulting any of the OT and IT stakeholders. Accenture and Jim Barnes ran rough shod on all of Kodak. Any competent automation professional who has worked on smart manufacturing initiatives knows that it’s always best to start very small with a limited use case to address an immediate need that frontline manufacturing stakeholders have. The logical progression is to build up from there to allow people a chance to see what’s possible.

Ultimately, the point is to show manufacturing and IT stakeholders that digital transformation is just like software development. Successful software development initiatives necessitate widespread adoption of open source technologies and potentially building new open source technologies, as well as contributing existing ones to better suit them to meet your specific needs.

Contrary to best practices, Jim Barnes and Accenture simultaneously launched multiple complex projects at once:

  1. Upgrading the legacy R3 ERP environment to S4

  2. Implementing SAP Engineering Control Center (ECTR) and Intelligent Document Management System (IQDMS) as the Product Lifecycle Management (PLM) solution for the inks/toner division.

  3. Implementing SAP Plant Maintenance (PM) for all production planning, maintenance activities, and shop-floor asset utilization.

  4. Implementing SAP Quality Management (QM) for production quality inspections and laboratory information management (LIMS) activities.

  5. Integrate the above systems through SAP Digital Manufacturing Cloud to do IoT data integration and various other L3 functions.

  6. Implement SAP Success Factors LMS for all human capital management functionality.

  7. Implement OpenText for all enterprise content management functions, such as equipment maintenance SOP documents and document change control.

  8. Exclusively use S4 Hana Cloud to do all finance, logistics, recipe management, and various other L4 functions.

  9. Exclusively use S4 Group Reporting to handle all corporate consolidations at L5.

LeverX was chosen to assist with the configuration of the SAP ECTR and IQDMS solution. Mindset Consulting was selected to do the SAP PM and QM configuration and implementation. OpenText was directly hired to do the OpenText business discovery but money was running out at this point, so there was an unstated expectation that all configuration & integration would be done internally. OpenText was simply serving as the business discovery consultant, never actually getting their hands dirty with any technical development.

Various local systems integrators combined with a temporary increase in hiring of contract internal staff were used to handle the implementation of an SAP edge gateway device to stream data from L2 via OPC-UA.

ABB was exclusively chosen to do all L0 to L2 functionality for the life sciences division. There was never any deliberation on why ABB systems were selected for single source procurement. Kodak had not even done a factory acceptance test (FAT) prior to choosing all ABB exclusive products.

Even stranger was that the internal team tasked to handle all of these initiatives did not include any of the core developers who had literally built the entire current state of Kodak’s process controls & software systems at every layer. Instead, it consisted of random stakeholders with no automation experience. I argue this was intentional in order to suppress dissent by ensuring that no critical questions could be asked due to a lack of knowledge, as well as to reduce transparency into the miserable failings of these system implementations.

Millions were burned into unnecessary armies of consultants who intentionally blurred & obfuscated development with the sole intention of racking up billable hours.

The SAP Initiative Journey

The first order of business on Jim Barnes’ agenda was to upgrade the entirety of R3 ERP functionality into S4. While there is certainly a case to be made regarding upgrading legacy tooling, this push lacked concrete steps on how to get there.

No discussions were held on whether this suite of applications that constitute ERP functionality would be exclusively living as Fiori applications, as GUI applications, or some hybrid. There were no discussions on weeding out junk master data so that the S4 environment did not have garbage data. Things like unused company codes, decommissioned security profiles, cleaning up forms, and standardizing AR processes.

User acceptance testing was forced into being accepted by OT stakeholders, oftentimes with no input from the necessary stakeholders who would be responsible for the functionality of certain S4 modules. Undeserved self-patting on the back were performed by The Barnes Firm 1.5 years later when a single instance of SAP S4 was deployed for production.

The Barnes Firm was hellbent on deploying these SAP solutions exclusively on cloud hosted infrastructure, despite not having any internal expertise on managing cloud infrastructure. One of the ways Kodak has been able to survive for so long is that it owns much of its IT infrastructure and manages it themselves. From data centers, to internet service, to phone telecommunications, and IT support desk. And they knew how to do it very well. This kind of reckless decision making just screamed incompetence and gross negligence.

Next up on the list is upgrading the existing PDM and PLM tooling, which were done using Cideon, to SAP ECTR and IQDMS. The consultancy doing this configuration and implementation was LeverX, an SAP shop primarily specializing in SAP ERP projects, which is to say an IT company whose sole skillset lays in accounting methods. Yet here they were throwing their hat into the ring to handle a highly complex project to implement engineering parts changes & approval workflows for a manufacturing vertical they had no business being in.

LeverX had less than a handful of people in its entire company who understood and had previously worked with engineering design change control systems, let alone conducted discovery & systems implementation/data integration for one. The project was a major clown show, with the end deliverable being a PLM solution that consisted of broken approval workflows, a glitchy integration into the CAD system that always required manual startup every time you opened the CAD software, and manual confirmation to verify that a part had been checked out.

In the end, users just opted to not use the PLM system altogether & reverted back to caveman days of keeping design change records through complex file naming. This went on for a year and ultimately resulted in end users being worse off than where they originally started. LeverX consultants eventually left and it was up to 1 internal Kodak person, who had no software or sysadmin or SAP PLM experience, to pick up the shattered pieces that SAP left behind.

The messaging behind why Kodak was shoving this particular suite of SAP solutions down the throats of OT and IT stakeholders was because it would “assist” in Kodak’s strategy of making printing/inks/toner great again and boost revenue.

I found this odd because it has always been the case that the majority of Kodak’s revenue has been from film manufacturing. Why hemorrhage so much time and money into just 1 division that barely makes anything and completely leave the breadwinner to fend for itself?

Follow the money. Essentially Kodak has retirement payouts coming due, loans from Wall Street coming due, major outstanding debts still in existence, all the while spending millions on SAP consultants & SAP channel providers.

It was clear to me that this was done intentionally to try & force this individual to quit so that Kodak would not have to pay for their pension. Just like the other responsible parties you will see taking part in the other projects, Kodak knew that most of its workforce was within 1-2 years of retirement age. Kodak would stop at nothing to squirrel their retirement package and has done as much in the past.

Next up is SAP PM and QM. I will give The Barnes Firm some credit here – they originally decided to roll these solutions out to rip & replace existing tooling on a limited basis. One factory in particular – their plates factory in Columbus, GA. Sadly this plan did not last long and The Barnes Firm immediately blew up the scope to include their Ohio factory, their Vancouver plant, all of Rochester Park (which is by far the most complex factory in all of Kodak), and their China factories. Incompetence knows no bounds.

One of the biggest red flags during this implementation dumpster fire was the repeated exclusion of manufacturing end users at every step of the software development lifecycle. End users were shut out of the requirements gathering phase – these were templated by what Jim Barnes himself thought. IT stakeholders were shut out of how these SAP solutions would be hosted – Barnes insisted they had to be cloud hosted. Web based applications were exclusively chosen, yet no SAP Fiori experts were ever onboarded despite repeated issues with Fiori application functionality & security role provisioning.

Master data accuracy and integrity was never discussed, despite end users repeatedly stating that they were aware they had lots of faulty master data and requesting help in cleaning it up prior to loading. The biggest point of shame in this implementation of SAP PM and QM was that for the Columbus plates plant, which I personally oversaw, the manufacturing process and the end product were very easy. They manufactured just 1 product – aluminum plates that came in different sizes. The entire manufacturing process was very simple, consisting of slightly over a dozen steps to make a finished good.

The Barnes Firm had managed to figure out a way to turn such a simple environment into an unnecessarily convoluted mess. They share many similarities with Li-Cycle in this regard. 1 product, simple production process, relatively low complexity software systems, automation, & process controls requirements.

At least Li-Cycle can somewhat hide behind the veil of “being a start-up". Unfortunately, Kodak has a longstanding history of absolutely dropping the ball hard on trends and I doubt that it will ever change. They continue to exist solely because they are the sole providers of some film manufacturing products, their brand, and their social connections to institutional investors who will stop at nothing in their grifting to get blood from a stone.

An entire year was spent debating how to name functional locations within SAP PM, despite my countless suggestions of using ISA95 guidelines to create a hierarchy. This hierarchy would not have mattered much in SAP land anyway, as all SAP data backend are extremely difficult to access and unnecessarily locked down to the nine. If you are new to what a functional location is, basically think of it as a data model for a physical representation of various areas within the plant.

The search parameter for functional locations accepts fuzzy search and is predominately used to aid users in finding equipment installed at each respective area in order to perform work against the equipment, like report a breakdown or confirm time spent on a maintenance work order.

The SAP PM and QM project still continues to this day. It has been 2 years since its inception with no tangible results to show for any of it. The funniest part about my time with the SAP PM and QM project was witnessing the Microsoft Teams channel be deleted by a random user because they had been unnecessarily added by Jim Barnes himself years ago when the channel was created. It turns out that The Barnes Firm is so incompetent that Jim Barnes and his army of middle management & SAP consultants never took the time to implement any general IT controls on the project management platforms being used to conduct business.

To this day, all of the Microsoft Teams sites and channels created by Jim Barnes are essentially living on a user account. What else would you expect though, these initiatives are simply smoke & mirrors to give the guise that Kodak is “working” on building a legitimate Life Sciences / Pharma division in order to entice the government & investors into shilling millions like was originally promised.

Next up we have the implementation of OpenText for document management & change control. Oddly enough, during the SAP ECTR and IQDMS, Kodak had achieved the ability to conduct document change control and approvals workflow. It made zero sense why Kodak would spend additional money on procuring licenses, consultants, and custom development for yet another document management system. OpenText is simply a glorified proprietary version control tool that can be easily overcome by using markdown to create documents and tracking changes via git.

The worst part of this project was dealing with the OpenText “developers” and “solutions architects”. They had no clue what they were doing when it came time to discuss IT infrastructure hosting and security. It quickly became apparent to me that OpenText had simply thrown their most junior engineers on this project with Kodak because they could see the nonsense from a mile away. One would think that no self-respecting company would want to associate themselves with the dumpster fire that Continenza and The Barnes Firm created within Kodak’s digital destruction journey. Sadly, you would be wrong.

ABB, SAP, Accenture, OpenText, LeverX, Mindset Consulting are equally to blame for knowingly allowing these fraudulent schemes to take place and for a customer to commit Seppuku by procuring products & services it simply does not need.

You may wonder about the response of my engineering team. They vocally criticized these practices, openly challenging The Barnes Firm. Despite their courage, the pervasive power dynamics at Kodak limited their ability to effect change.

These folks had spent their entire careers at Kodak, had families to feed, and an entire pension & retirement benefits package tied up in Kodak. While they did their best to push back on this insanity, they had to tow a fine line so as to not put all they had worked for at jeopardy. Quitting is not an option, especially given the power dynamics at play. Kodak does not employ union staff and has a history of defrauding employees out of their pension and retirement.

Instead, I implore you to ask why this entire burden of outing corruption & racketeering must be solely carried by frontline employees? Where is the outrage from industrial standards associations bringing more public awareness to this scandal? Why isn’t the rest of the C-level & executive leadership publicly speaking out against this? How about we stop trying to shame the victims and instead put the blame where it rightfully belongs – to the channel providers, OEMs, systems integrators, and Kodak leadership.


As this exposé reveals, the challenges at Kodak are not merely isolated incidents of corporate malpractice but are indicative of a pervasive culture of corruption that affects the entire field of industrial automation. This culture is sustained not only by individuals like Jim Continenza but also by the very institutions that are supposed to foster integrity and innovation. Industry associations, by prioritizing revenues over responsibilities, have failed to protect the community they serve, mirroring the shortsighted and self-serving practices seen within companies they are supposed to regulate.

The parallels between these corporate misdeeds and broader industry complacency demand a robust response—not just from regulators, but from every professional who believes in the transformative potential of technology. Engineers, tech workers, and industry insiders must rise to the occasion, advocating for transparency, accountability, and a commitment to open-source solutions that empower rather than exploit.

I call upon my peers in the tech and engineering fields to take up the mantle of journalistic inquiry and activism. Expose the wrongdoing not only within your organizations but within the industry at large. Support and contribute to open-source projects that offer alternatives to the proprietary systems that so often underpin these corrupt practices. Challenge industry associations to live up to their stated missions by holding them publicly accountable. Together, we can forge a future where technology serves as a tool for empowerment and innovation, not an instrument of exploitation.

This fight is not just about safeguarding jobs or protecting investments—it is about ensuring that our field remains a force for good in the world. Let us stand united in this cause, for the integrity of our profession and the betterment of society at large.

Thanks again for your time. See you in the next one.

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DISCLAIMER: I am not sponsored or influenced in any way, shape, or form by the companies and products mentioned. This is my own original content, with image credits given as appropriate and necessary.

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