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GoPro's Woodman on Its Media Business: 'It's a Lot Like Disney' (Video)

GoPro has some cool new products coming down its pipeline. What about its media business?

Reuters / Mike Segar

When Nick Woodman started GoPro in 2002, the idea for little rugged action cameras having come to him during a surfing trip, he ran the business on a card table at his father’s house. Since then, GoPro has become the indisputable leader in the U.S. action camera market.

Last summer the company went public, raising $427 million in its IPO. And today at Code Conference, Woodman revealed two different new or upcoming products: A new system for shooting virtual reality, and plans for a quadcopter drone.

Still, GoPro faces competition in hardware, and some investors and analysts have been skeptical of the company’s long-term potential. That’s where questions around its media business come in.

“Are you a device company?” Re/code Co-Executive Editor Kara Swisher asked Woodman.

“We are a content-enabling company,” Woodman replied.

People are watching more crazy GoPro videos than ever. GoPro — a hardware maker! — claims the No. 1 brand channel on all of YouTube and has a massive following on social platforms like Instagram. In the first quarter of this year, video views on GoPro’s No. 1 YouTube channel were up 46 percent year over year.

But GoPro has yet to turn content into a big money-making business.

Woodman said the company still needs to do a better job of enabling people to not just capture content but also offload it, upload it to the cloud, edit it and share it with other people. At that point, “we think we can scale GoPro content,” he said.

Later on, Swisher asked if Woodman considers GoPro’s videos entertainment.

“We are entertainment … it’s a lot like Disney,” he said. “Disney produces fabulous movies around certain characters, and then they commercialize that engagement through toys, books, cruises. People are watching GoPro content not to decide whether they should buy it or not, they’re watching it for the entertainment.”

Woodman also dismissed analysts’ concerns about GoPro’s future, saying he believes it’s the brand’s strength that makes people skittish. “Things that burn very brightly, we wonder how long they can keep burning,” he said.

“When we went on the road a year ago for the IPO, everyone asked us if we were the next Flip, or what happens when the smartphone really challenges you,” he continued. “But we actually grew up during the era of the smartphone.”

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