GoPro Inc., maker of a hands-free, high-definition video camera that can be attached to a variety of objects, animals, or people in motion, filed a confidential registration for an initial public offering (IPO) on Friday with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission. The confidential filing was made under rules enacted as part of the Jumpstart Our Business Startups (JOBS) Act that allows companies posting revenues of less than $1 billion in the previous fiscal year to initiate the IPO process without disclosing financial information.
According to reports, the company will seek to raise about $400 million. The company and underwriters hope to come up with share pricing that would value the company at well above $2.3 billion, the level at which the company last raised venture funding in 2012. Taiwan manufacturing giant Hon Hai Precision Industry Co. Ltd. (aka Foxconn) pumped $200 million into GoPro at that time.
GoPro has picked a good time for its announcement. There is every reason to believe that Olympic athletes will be using the company’s cameras to record their performances and those of their competitors over the course of the Games, and those videos will find their way to the public via posts on YouTube and other sites. In a 2013 interview with Forbes, founder Nick Woodman said the company sold 2.3 million cameras in 2012, generating revenue of $521 million. Revenue has doubled every year since its 2004 founding, he added.
The company’s “moat,” if it has one, is that its cameras are better suited for the rough-and-tumble of filming action sports than are the more fragile cameras included with virtually every smartphone currently on the market. Mounting your smartphone to your skiing helmet with duct tape doesn’t have the same appeal as using a high-tech gizmo designed specifically for the purpose. To say nothing about how many smartphones you might have to replace.
GoPro is expected to start pitching its IPO to investors in the first half of this year. Underwriters for the offering include J.P. Morgan, Citigroup, and Barclays.