Woodman Labs Founder Becomes Billionaire on Foxconn Deal

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.

The purchase for $200 million values Woodman Labs Inc. at $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 $1.73 billion, about $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 $600 million in sales since 2003 and a valuation of $2 billion in such a short time is quite remarkable.”

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, a spokesman for Foxconn’s flagship Hon Hai Precision Industry Co., said in an interview after the announcement. Hon Hai, based in Taipei, bought 11.7 million shares in closely-held Woodman Labs for $17.08 yesterday.

Rick Loughery, a spokesman for Woodman Labs, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.

Waterproof Cameras

GoPro makes rugged waterproof cameras used by surfers, skiers and skydivers. Venture capital firms own the remaining 14 percent of the San Mateo, California-based company, according to Hamadeh. In May 2011, Woodman raised money from Riverwood Capital, U.S. 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 persuade surf, bike and ski shops to carry the devices in the mid-2000s. Woodman Labs’ 2012 sales will approach $600 million, Bloomberg News reported in October, citing three people with knowledge of its finances.

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