GoPro Plans Public Offering of Extreme-Sports Camera Maker

GoPro Inc. is planning to go public.

The maker of cameras used by surfers, skiers and sky divers to record their exploits, filed for a U.S. initial public offering, it said today. The company, based in San Mateo, California, didn’t provide details of the offering.

GoPro is working with JPMorgan Chase & Co. on the IPO, according to two people with knowledge of the matter. The company had close to $1 billion in sales last year and plans the listing in May or June, one of the people said, asking not to be identified discussing confidential information. The Jumpstart Our Business Startups, or Jobs, Act allows companies with less than $1 billion in annual revenue to file for IPOs confidentially with U.S. regulators.

Started in 2002 by Nicholas Woodman, who is chief executive officer, GoPro initially had one camera style that sold for $19.99 in surf shops around California. GoPro now sells four camera styles worldwide that range in price from $200 to $400, as well as a range of mounts and accessories. The company’s YouTube channel has 1.6 million subscribers and has had more than 400 million views. GoPro had 2012 sales of $521 million, Woodman told Forbes magazine last March.

A representative for GoPro didn’t respond to a request for comment. A spokesman for JPMorgan declined to comment on the IPO plan.

Jobs Act

GoPro joins the ranks of microblogging service Twitter Inc. and midprice hotel-chain La Quinta Holdings Inc., which utilized the Jobs Act to file for IPOs confidentially and then publicized their plans. At least seven technology companies have already disclosed their plans to go public in the U.S. this year, including IMS Health Holdings Inc., the health-care focused information-technology company, data compiled by Bloomberg show.

GoPro cameras let action-sports enthusiasts take professional-quality videos. In recent years, GoPro cameras have expanded beyond the surf and sky-diving crowds and are used for a variety of everyday and specialty applications. 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.

Media Company

The company plans to position itself with investors as a media company as well as a hardware maker, according to one of the people familiar with the situation. It produces many videos about its customers and their exploits, such as one video of environmentalist Kevin Richardson cavorting with wild lions that has almost six million YouTube hits. One possibility is to create cable channels or shows, the person said. The company thinks the media business has the potential to bring in more profits than the cameras over the long term, the person said.

In a 2011 video posted to the company’s website, CEO Woodman said, “To see that amount of communication between people around the world, and that they’re doing it with our camera as the enabling device--that’s way bigger than setting out to make a wrist camera for surfing and it’s way bigger than being a ‘rad brand.’ It’s helping people communicate.”

GoPro recently extended into software and offers a free video-editing program and phone apps to control cameras remotely.