GoPro's $100m IPO: Camera maker behind viral hits wants to become a 'media entity'

10-year-old company has become synonymous online with compelling, high-definition footage, but needs to stay ahead of ever-tougher smartphones

GoPro, the makers of a range of high-definition cameras targeted at extreme sports fans, has filed for a $100 million IPO, after announcing plans to go public in February.

The 10-year-old company has cornered a market that has grown with the internet’s love of viral videos, capturing everything from an injured pelican learning to fly again to a clip of a two-legged boxer dog enjoying his day on the beach that was confidently branded ‘heartwarming’ by all and sundry.

For38-year-old founder and CEO Nicholas Woodman it’s been a long journey. The serial entrepreneur began by selling cameras to surfers out of the back of his Volkswagen van, but in 2013 the company managed to ship 3.85 million units – a 66 per cent increase in sales from 2012.

The newly-revealed financial details aren’t uniformly glowing for GoPro, with the company reporting a dip in growth between the first quarters of 2013 and 2014, but they still show that revenue was up 87 per cent in 2013 as a whole, with the company taking some $985 million in sales of cameras and accessories.  

Another point in the company’s favour is that compared to a lot of tech-based IPOs, the company is also profitable, reporting a net income of $60 million in 2013. GoPro are also hoping that they can turn a hardware manufacturer into “a media entity”.

 

In their filing, the company said they were looking to “develop new revenue opportunities by increasing production of GoPro originally produced content” and “develop, distribute and promote GoPro programming on additional partner platforms such as Virgin America and Xbox Live."

These ambitions might be necessary if the company is to hold off the growing threat from smartphones and tablets. Although GoPro’s specialised cameras have been able to flourish by simply out-surviving most other cameras, manufacturers are increasingly adding water- and dust-resistant capabilities to their handsets.

As the company notes, “It is possible that, in the future, the manufacturers of these devices, such as Apple Inc. and Samsung, may design them for use in a range of conditions, including challenging physical environments, or develop products similar to ours."

Until then the company has a clear monopoly, accounting for 77 per cent of the ruggedized camcorder category last year in the US, but it might need more than a few lucky videos going viral to stay on top of the market.

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