GoPro is going public, announcing Friday that it has filed for an initial public offering as the company continues to find fans among professional and amateur athletes who use its action-oriented cameras to film their feats.
The company announced in a news release Friday morning that it has filed confidentially for an IPO, a process created by the 2012 JOBS act that allows companies with annual revenues less than $1 billion. A confidential filing, — also used by Twitter and many other recent Silicon Valley companies making their public debut — gives the Securities and Exchange Commission time to request changes away from public view.
CEO and surfer Nick Woodman built the company and began selling cameras in 2004, with the idea that lightweight, durable cameras would allow fellow surfers and other athletes to film their exploits cheaply and from a new perspective. The idea has caught on, with GoPro cameras costing as little as $200 getting strapped to bicycle handles, ski helmets and much, much more worldwide, thrusting Woodman onto the Forbes 400 list of richest Americans for the first time in 2013.
“It's pretty amazing how much change we've seen around here since we moved over from Half Moon Bay,” GoPro's senior production artist, Abe Kislevitz, recently told The Mercury News; the company moved up the Peninsula from its original home in 2012.
Kislevitz, employee No. 29 on a staff now approaching 700 people, said that back in the early days with Woodman running the show,”when we weren't working we'd be out surfing every day,” but they still managed to create a technology that has changed the way people capture their world.
“This technology lets us photograph places that in the past you'd need a helicopter or a zip line or a huge crane to get a camera even close to,” he said.
In a 2013 interview with Forbes to mark his entry into the list of America's richest people, Woodman said that GoPro sold 2.3 million cameras in 2012, generating revenues of $$521 million, part of a pattern of doubling revenues every year that the company had followed since its 2004 founding.
The technology has especially caught on at ski slopes: Sales at snow sports retailers increased 50 percent to 123,000 for the 2012-13 ski season, SnowSports Industries America reported last year, and the trade group expected a higher number this season. And that is likely a small fraction of overall sales, though GoPro will not have to publicly disclose sales figures until its filing is made public.
GoPro has received less than $300 million in venture funding, with the latest and largest round pulling in $200 million in late 2012 from Hon Hai Industry, also known as FoxConn, an Asian manufacturing company known for its contract work with Apple, Hewlett-Packard and other consumer electronics companies. That investment valued the company at $2.25 billion and still reportedly left Woodman with ownership of nearly half of GoPro.
The timing of the filing's public release, and the offering itself, will depend on the number of revisions the Securities and Exchange Commission requires in the private process. Twitter privately filed its confidential draft registration statement for an IPO on July 12, 2013, and the filing was eventually made public on Oct. 3, about a month ahead of its IPO.