GoPro Is Going Public. Will It Sink or Swim?
No one questions that the company that's made its name mounting mini hi-def cameras to people's head before they jump off cliffs with a parachute is cool.
But cool and a solid investment for the future are two different things.
GoPro is expected to file its S-1 documents with the Securities and Exchange Commission as soon as this week, according to Re/code, the tech news site in which NBCUniversal is a minority investor.
Not much specific financial information is known about GoPro's public offering, since GoPro's filing would be under rules that allow companies with revenue under $1 billion to provide minimal disclosure.
GoPro's billionaire founder Nick Woodman has said publicly that GoPro's revenue has doubled every year since its small hi-def action cameras hit the market in 2004. Woodman has added the revenues reached more than $500 million in 2012.
It's been those cool cameras that have generated the bulk of the company's revenues. The success of the GoPro product also has pushed competitors to come up with new and similar products that challenge its core financial franchise.
GoPro is synonymous with the action camera market, which it dominates with a 54 percent global share, according to International Data Corp. And IDC adds the action camera market is growing by leaps and bounds—jumping nearly 70 percent just last year.
Despite those encouraging numbers, IDC analyst Chris Chute said there are headwinds for GoPro. Woodman's company has to attract more than just die-hard surfers and extreme skiers or its overall market will be too small.
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In discussions with analysts and investors, however, it's clear that Woodman and Gopro's board and executive management have ambitious growth plans up their sleeve. Those strategic plans are expected to be known soon after hitting the public markets in the near future, with some hints in the S-1.
Before the pre-IPO quiet period, Woodman told The New York Times he wants to turn GoPro into a diversified media company. The demand is certainly there for GoPro's content: Google has told CNBC that GoPro videos have attracted more than 470 million views on YouTube and more than 1.8 million people are signed up to the GoPro Youtube channel.
Wedbush Securities' Michael Pachter said GoPro is likely to turn its content into a full programming channel, which could provide video material for cable and satellite TV networks, in addition, to the likes of Netflix and Amazon.
GoPro already has a partnership for video programming content with Virgin America and has a deal with Microsoft for the GoPro channel on Xbox360 and one coming this summer to Xbox One.
There is no question GoPro is going to offer shares in the near future, and the consensus from analysts is bullish. GoPro's cameras are selling like hot cakes, especially globally and in countries where extreme sports are big.
One of the most interesting facts that investors will be looking for is just how much money GoPro's relationship with YouTube is generating. And also what is GoPro's strategy to diversify revenues with new wearable cameras and other devices, and just how quickly does the company plan to invest in its strategy to get its compelling video on a variety of video platforms.