Whilst GoPro’s footage is epic, its growth is slow-motion. Is it time for the founder to exit?

I confess to being a GoPro user. Their small action cameras are a self indulgence which I mainly use on snowboard trips, though I did once record a webinar video on one.

At GoPro’s peak in 2015 the company sold over 6 million cameras a year. Unfortunately that number is now less than half.

The company was founded by Nick Woodman in 2002 who wanted to record his surfing trips. He developed a tailor-made waterproof housing, camera, and most importantly in my view, a wide range of practical attachments. These allow the photographically inclined to take shots from a variety of angles and heights.

Whilst surfing, action photography and marketing were clearly part of Woodman’s skill set, the jury remains out on whether GoPro is a viable, growth business.

GoPro Max

In 2014 the company IPO-ed for $24. Whilst it’s true the stock has rallied in 2021, it’s still trading just under $10. There has only been one period in the last 5 years when revenues have grown.

GoPro has moved its business model from one focused on bricks & mortar stores, to Direct-to-Consumer where it sells subscriptions for cloud hosting, access to a streaming channel and extra discounts on accessories. GoPro touts that it now has 1.3 million subscribers.

Then there’s the issue of competition. Whilst GoPro created the action photography category, it no longer has the playing field to itself. Insta360, a brand marketed by Arashi Vision Inc. is increasingly making waves. Legacy camera companies like Nikon have not looked on idly either. It launched KeyMission 170 in 2016. Canon has the Powershot and DJI a drone maker has several models.

Given GoPro’s brand equity, the business arguably could fit well under a larger parent, perhaps another camera company or a software house? Since Woodman’s family trust holds 69% of the voting shares he can easily block any hostile moves. However as the adage goes, ‘everyone has a price.’ 

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