GoPro’s Move Into Drones, Virtual Reality Cheers Investors

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GoPro Eyes the Skies With the Development of a Drone

GoPro Inc. announced plans to move beyond its Hero brand of wearable cameras, easing some investor concerns that it was a single-product company.

Chief Executive Officer Nick Woodman said GoPro was developing a drone for capturing video from the skies and working on a product that will allow video and photo recording for virtual reality. The shares rose 6.6 percent on Thursday to close at $56.81, their high since January 9. The gain left the stock down 10 percent for the year.

“This puts some of the naysayers on their heels, who thought this was just a one-hit wonder,” said Erinn Murphy, an analyst at Piper Jaffray & Co.

She estimated that GoPro can take from 10 percent to 25 percent of the drone market, which she expects to grow to $5 billion in 2020 from $2 billion this year. Its strong name recognition -– GoPro is the most viewed brand on YouTube last year, she said -– will help the company win a substantial share of the industry.

GoPro’s Six-Camera Spherical Array for virtual reality will be available in the second half of this year, Woodman said Wednesday at the Code Conference in Rancho Palos Verdes, California. It will use technology developed by Kolor, a startup that the San Mateo, California-based company acquired in April.

GoPro also announced a partnership with Google Inc. to create a device for 16 video cameras. Once its footage is uploaded, software on Google’s servers will integrate the streams into a 360-degree view that can be watched using VR goggles.

Woodman said the drone will be available in the first half of next year. He declined to state pricing and other specifics.

Murphy said the initiatives fit well into GoPro’s strategy.

“We live in a somewhat narcissistic culture,” she said. “We love our selfies and documenting our own lives, and GoPro has been able to capitalize on that.”

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