The GoPro (NASDAQ:GPRO) IPO attracted just as much attention as we'd expected here at, closing up 30% from its $24 a share offering price. Founder Nick Woodman ended the day a billionaire on paper.

Who else won? I'm glad you asked. Here's a short list of the top institutional investors who purchased shares ahead of the GoPro IPO:

In for?
Percentage owned post-IPO
Estimated value (based on $2.57 bil. valuation)
Total return

Riverwood Capital

$52.9 million


$402.9 million


Foxteq Holdings

$200 million


$257 million


Sageview Capital

$20 million


$152.1 million


Steamboat Ventures

$10 million


$76.1 million


U.S. Venture Partners

$5 million


$38.0 million


Sources: S&P Capital IQ, SEC filings, TMF estimates.

Please note that this isn't meant to be a precise depiction of returns. Instead, it's an estimate based on my read of information found at S&P Capital IQ, and in GoPro's final prospectus, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) earlier today.

Why should you care about these investors, and others like them? Because smart backing is something we look for when picking stocks at Motley Fool Rule Breakers. Here's how Fool co-founder and lead Rule Breakers advisor David Gardner describes the importance of smart backing:

"Investors should also be prepared to learn about the venture backers of a young company. If the very best venture capital firms are behind a company, maybe you should be, too."

Meet the team backing GoPro
From the table, you can see that four venture capital and private equity firms were invested before the IPO. Foxteq Holdings, a subsidiary of contract manufacturer Foxconn, is the outlier, and isn't well known for investing in early-stage companies such as GoPro. What about the others? Let's review:

  • Riverwood Capital: Founding partner Michael Marks is a member of the board. The company's other investments include GoPro components supplier Ambarella and Calix, a broadband infrastructure specialist.

  • Sageview Capital: Founding partner Ned Gilhuly is a member of the board. The company's other investments include comScore and EverBank Financial.

  • Steamboat Ventures: An offshoot of The Walt Disney Company, Steamboat founder and Managing Partner John Ball serves on GoPro's board. He and his team have a history of backing companies that go on to be acquired.

  • U.S. Venture Partners: Woodman's stepfather, Irwin Federman, is a senior advisor. In addition to GoPro, the company's investment portfolio includes Box and Living Social.

All four made a lot of money today. If you're a common stock investor, I'd advise keeping tabs on their portfolios. You never know when they'll back the next GoPro.

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Tim Beyers is a member of the Motley Fool Rule Breakers stock-picking team and the Motley Fool Supernova Odyssey I mission. He owned shares of Walt Disney at the time of publication. Check out Tim's web home and portfolio holdings or connect with him on Google+Tumblr, or Twitter, where he goes by @milehighfool. You can also get his insights delivered directly to your RSS reader.

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