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GoPro Names Ex-Microsoft Executive Tony Bates as President

GroPro's new president Tony Bates. Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg
GroPro's new president Tony Bates. Photographer: Jacob Kepler/Bloomberg

GoPro Inc., the maker of cameras used by surfers, skiers and sky divers to record their adventures, recruited former Microsoft Corp. executive Tony Bates as president and added him to the board.

Bates, 47, will join as second-in-command at the San Mateo, California-based video maker, reporting to GoPro founder and Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Woodman, the company said in a statement today. Bates left Microsoft in March after he was passed over for the CEO job that went to colleague Satya Nadella.

GoPro, which filed preliminary documents for a U.S. initial public offering in February and a public prospectus last month, plans to position itself as a media company distributing video content. Most of its $985.7 million revenue last year was derived through cameras and accessories. Bates, a former Cisco Systems Inc. executive, ran Microsoft’s Skype unit before becoming an executive vice president in July, where he ran business development and evangelism.

The video and equipment maker also said today that it added Dolby Laboratories Inc. Chairman Peter Gotcher to its board, bringing the total number of directors to seven. Gotcher co-founded Digidesign Inc., maker of digital-audio workstations including ProTools.

“I’m fired up to have two seasoned technology veterans like Tony and Peter join our team,” Woodman said in the statement. “As president of GoPro, Tony will focus on our core business as well as scaling GoPro’s fast-growing media operations.”

Surfers, Sky Divers

GoPro, started by Woodman in 2002, is expanding content distribution beyond its hit YouTube site via channel deals with Microsoft’s Xbox and Virgin America Inc.’s inflight entertainment service. GoPro’s channels feature produced and sponsored action footage, and clips captured by users of its equipment.

GoPro initially had one camera style that sold in surf shops around California. GoPro now sells four camera styles worldwide for $200 to $400, as well as a range of mounts and accessories. The company’s YouTube channel has 1.8 million subscribers.

In recent years, GoPro cameras have expanded beyond the surf and sky-diving crowds. Fire departments use them for training, marine biologists use them for undersea research and the U.S. Army uses them in tests of the damage to Humvees from roadside bombs.

GoPro posted a $60.6 million profit last year, almost double what it earned in 2012, according to the IPO filing. Sales jumped 87 percent year over year.

Woodman owns 49 percent of the voting power. Other shareholders include Riverwood Capital LLC, Sageview Capital Partners LP and Foxconn Technology Group.

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