GoPro’s Woodman joins the ranks of billionaires

Bloomberg

Sun, Dec 23, 2012 - Page 13

Nicholas Woodman, creator of the popular GoPro video camera, joined the ranks of the world’s billionaires earlier this week after selling an 8.9 percent stake in his company to Foxconn Technology Group (富士康科技集團).

The purchase for US$200 million values Woodman Labs Inc at US$2.25 billion.

Woodman, the founder and chief executive officer, owns 77 percent of the company, according to Sam Hamadeh, CEO of New York-based research firm PrivCo Media LLC. His stake is valued at US$1.73 billion, about US$600 million more than previously reported, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires Index.

“This is a phenomenal success story and it’s based on creating gadgets, which is quite rare now,” Hamadeh said in a telephone interview. “To go from zero to US$600 million in sales since 2003 and a valuation of US$2 billion in such a short time is quite remarkable.”

Venture capital firms own the remaining 14 percent of the San Mateo, California-based company, according to Hamadeh.

Foxconn, the Taiwanese manufacturer of Apple Inc iPads and Sony Corp PlayStations, expects to have the opportunity to become a supplier for GoPro equipment, Simon Hsing (邢治平), a spokesman for Foxconn’s flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry Co (鴻海精密), said in an interview after the announcement. Hon Hai, based in Taipei, on Friday bought 11.7 million shares in closely held Woodman Labs for US$17.08.

Rick Loughery, a spokesman for Woodman Labs, did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

GoPro makes rugged waterproof cameras used by surfers, skiers and skydivers.

In May last year, Woodman raised money from Riverwood Capital, US Venture Partners, Sageview Capital, Walden International and Steamboat Ventures, an investment firm backed by Walt Disney Co.

Woodman built a following for his wearable cameras when family and friends helped him to persuade surf, bike and ski shops to carry the devices in the mid-2000s.

Woodman Labs’ sales this year are to approach US$600 million, Bloomberg News reported in October, citing three people with knowledge of its finances.