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GoPro Goes for Some 'Social IPO' Action


Maker of wearable camcorders valued at up to $3 billion.

Nicholas Woodman is about to become one awesomely rich surfer dud, with the launch of an IPO of stock in GoPro, the company he founded 10 years ago in the beach town of Half Moon Bay, California.
The company makes wearable high-definition camcorders that turn amateurs into action moviemakers. If you think those homemade videos on YouTube have gotten better lately, much of the credit must go to GoPro.
The clip-on camcorders have become popular among active sportspeople of all types. Since they can be attached to objects, they also are being used to capture live video from drones and other moving vehicles. As their use widens, they are being attached to babies, cats, and dolphins, too.
In a revised public filing submitted Wednesday to the Securities and Exchange Commission, GoPro said it intends to sell 17.8 million shares in a price range of $21 to $24 per share. At the high end, that would value the company at nearly $3 billion.
Its ticker symbol on the Nasdaq exchange will be GPRO. The date for the IPO has not been set.

In a burst of generosity rarely seen among startups, stockholders -- including employees as well as early investors -- have been given the chance to contribute half of the shares for sale, with the company offering the other half. Woodman, who is founder and CEO, plans to sell 3.56 million of his 56.6 million shares. Pro surfer Kelly Slater, who has promoted GoPro cameras, will sell more than 73,000 shares.

GoPro's IPO is also special in that fans and customers have been invited to participate in the offering via social media platform Loyal3. By joining Loyal3 as a member, individuals will get the same access to the IPO as Wall Street, and can spend as little as $100 to be invested in the launch.
GoPro, now headquartered in San Mateo, showed 2013 revenue of about $986 million, up from $526 million in 2012 and $234 million in 2011. Its net income totaled $115 million last year.
Since its first camera was introduced in 2009, GoPro has captured about 45% of the camcorder market. It sold about 3.8 million of them last year, along with accessories and video editing products.
Its users now include pros at the Discovery Channel and ESPN. The chance to make a "point of view" video has appeal beyond sports, as shown in a video shared by a French couple of their baby learning to walk. Another contribution is, literally, an eagle's-eye view of the Alps. Inevitably, cats show off in GoPro videos, too.
In the near future, the company hopes to expand and monetize its video ventures. Its GoPro Network on YouTube (NASDAQ:GOOG), stocked with content uploaded by users of its equipment, has logged about 450 million video views to date, but they are not yet a source of income for the company. In its filing, the company says that it has a plan "to pursue new revenue opportunities from the distribution of engaging GoPro content in the near term."
Tony Bates, the former Skype (NASDAQ:MSFT) CEO who was recently hired as president of GoPro, is expected to manage its media operations business.
The expansion into media may help address potential concerns about a slowing of its core business. This year, its first-quarter revenue slowed to about $236 million, from $255 million in the same period a year before. In the first round of paperwork filed with the SEC, last month GoPro indicated that "we do not expect to sustain or increase our revenue growth rates."

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No positions in stocks mentioned.
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