GoPro Hires Veteran Apple Designer Seeking to Spur Growth

  • Coster's move to GoPro sparks shares to best day since 2014
  • Action-camera maker needs new products to reignite enthusiasm

GoPro Inc. wooed an Apple Inc. veteran to head its design efforts, sending shares of the action-camera maker to their best day in almost two years.

Danny Coster, who has worked for Apple for more than 20 years and holds more than 500 design patents, will become GoPro’s vice president of design starting at the end of April and report directly to Chief Executive Officer Nick Woodman, the San Mateo, California-based company said Wednesday in a statement. It’s a rare defection from the elite and secretive industrial design team at the iPhone maker.

Coster “will influence all aspects of design at GoPro in his new role, including hardware and software and services, lending his strategic vision and expertise to maximizing the GoPro user’s experience from end to end,” the company said in the statement.

GoPro shares rose as much as 20 percent to $13.99, the biggest intraday jump since July 1, 2014. Trading was more than double the three-month average volume. The Information reported Coster’s appointment earlier.

Flagging Momentum

GoPro has struggled to keep up momentum since its initial public offering in 2014 as competition from phones -- like Apple’s -- and drones has increased, putting pressure on Woodman to innovate. In February, the company missed analysts’ estimates for fourth-quarter earnings and forecast first-quarter revenue that was worse than analysts expected.

“This gives some impetus to the idea that these guys may focus more on design and try to get their mojo back,” said Jitendra Waral, an analyst at Bloomberg Intelligence. “Timing is key here. GoPro is not moving fast enough -- if this person accelerates that process, it could be a good thing.”

The company’s stock plummeted 35 percent this year through Tuesday, after dropping 72 percent in 2015. Demand for its Hero camera line, popularized by extreme-sports enthusiasts showing off their exploits, has begun to shrink and the company has faced complaints that its editing software isn’t user friendly. To address those concerns, GoPro agreed to acquire two mobile video editing companies for $105 million in cash and stock earlier this year. It has also generated excitement about a drone with a planned launch date later this year.

GoPro hasn’t done enough to take advantage of its brand’s strength among its niche audience of action sports enthusiasts, Waral said, and the possibility to sell products other than cameras.

“This gives them an opportunity to capitalize on that -- design new product categories and spur innovation within current products,” he said.

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