How GoPro Became a Victim of Bad Business Strategy


Behzad Sharifi Hacker Noon profile picture

Behzad Sharifi

Executive Director at ResponseCRM

What the hell happened to GoPro? These action cameras used to be a synonym for adrenaline-packed adventures and stunning action recordings. When was the last time you bought a GoPro camera? More importantly, when was the last time you heard or read something about this company that hasn’t been associated with business controversy and problems?

Why Is GoPro Not a Thing Anymore, As It Used to Be?

Do you remember the times when you couldn’t imagine a day without your GoPro camera? Well, I certainly do. So, what went wrong and why?

My first surprise was the fact that GoPro went public. That’s not an unusual thing for any company. Furthermore, a decision to go public at the right time can turn out to be a great business strategy. Unfortunately, as you can see, GoPro stock prices went south after a promising NASDAQ debut.


MarketWatch hit the nail on the head with the title of their research article: GoPro has been a no-growth company almost since its IPO

After GoPro Inc., the developer of action cameras, went public in 2014, its revenue peaked in 2015 at $1.6 billion. In the four years since then, GoPro investors have never seen sales get back to those levels, and its stock price has fallen about 88% from its market debut.

It’s not a pleasant and nice thing to look at the stocks that were once worth almost a hundred dollars per share being stuck around ten dollars for years. Especially if you take into consideration that the GoPro’s founder Nick Woodman used to be compared to no other than Steve Jobs.

Talking about a comparison between GoPro and Nick Woodman, on the one side, and Apple and Steve Jobs, on the other side, we can clearly identify the first terrible business strategy decision. At one point, Woodman was the best paid CEO in Silicon Valley by far. Here’s a jaw-dropping fact. During one year alone, he got a 5,000% raise!


You may say, so what? It’s was his idea, and it’s his company. He can do whatever he wants and set his own salary. True! But, here’s the thing.

Tim Cook gets paid a lot too for more than one reason. With all due respect, GoPro isn’t Apple. Meaning, no matter how high it may seem to all of us, Cook’s salary is just a “drop” in the Apple’s financial ocean. On the other side, Woodman’s salary can be compared to a megalodon with an insatiable appetite that can bite off the funds for research, marketing, and eventually quite a few GoPro employees.

It’s nice to have an eight-figure salary, but not at all cost. And, especially at the cost of your company’s future, success, and financial stability.

Work Hard, Spend Harder!

We are all humans, and startup founders aren’t an exception. We all want to change and save the world, but let’s be honest, we would also like to make all of our dreams come true. Some founder’s dreams cost more than others. What’s the point in fighting and sacrificing, if you aren’t going to reward yourself with some spending? Right?

Woodman suggested, in a rather casual manner, “Hey, I’m going to buy a jet. How would you like to go on a surf trip?”

I’d pack my bags in a blink of an eye, and I don’t even have to surf. And, I’d also like to be Woodman’s friend because he’s the man of his word.

GoPro founder and CEO Nick Woodman has fulfilled a decade-old promise to his college roommate – and it cost him $230 million. Woodman had agreed to give his college roommate Neil Dana 10 percent of all the money made from taking the company public.

This line sums it up perfectly and literally:

Now the highest-paid CEO in America, Nick bought a 180-foot yacht, a Gulfstream G5 jet, homes in Montana and Hawaii, and a fleet of vintage sports cars.

Let’s not forget the GoPro employees, as well.

“We went from around 700 employees at the time of the IPO to 1,600 in 18 months,” says C.J. Prober, a former Electronic Arts executive who took over as COO earlier this year after several years building GoPro’s software strategy.

Again, it’s nice to build and pay attention to GoPro’s software strategy, but how about a reasonable business and spending strategy, for a change?


Where Do We GoPro From Here?

What’s going to happen with GoPro? Does this company still have the future? Is there a life-saving business strategy for every adrenaline junkie’s favorite must-have camera?

Well, I’ve cried my eyes out reading while looking for a definitive answer. Here’s the best one I could find: GoPro Has A Bright Future As A Smaller Company.

I tend to agree. A small company with a small spending list for its founder can get back on track, no doubt about this business strategy.

If you liked this article, let me know by voting for my Noonies 2021 nomination for the Contributor of the Year in Business-Strategy category.



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