I recently explored the three pillars of GoPro's (NASDAQ: GPRO ) growth strategy, all of which center on empowering users to generate, manage, and share their passions and experiences. GoPro sold 3.8 million of its high-definition cameras in 2013, capturing 45% of the U.S. camcorder market by dollars in the process, but what's even more impressive is the expanding audience for GoPro's content.
User engagement is key, and GoPro has it
What's most impressive to me is how engaged people are with GoPro's content. GoPro is the No. 1 brand channel on YouTube, and there's little doubt that the company's content is engaging viewers. In the second quarter, the number of GoPro videos published on YouTube increased 160% year over year, views on YouTube increased 200%, and video minutes watched on YouTube increased 270%. This is a gold mine for both licensing and advertising opportunities -- not to mention free publicity for GoPro -- which makes the company's expansion into the GoPro Network as a media platform all the more appealing as an avenue for future growth.
"We're in the business of enabling great content, but we're taking it to a level that's never been done before, where we are enabling the entire life cycle of the content from the initial hardware all the way through the distribution thereof."
-- Founder and CEO Nick Woodman
In the first quarter of 2014, an average of 6,000 videos were uploaded each day, accumulating more than 1 billion views, with "GoPro" in the title, filename, tags, or description. The company's social media presence is equally impressive. As of Aug. 20, GoPro had over 7.6 million "likes" on Facebook, 2.7 million followers on Instagram, 1.1 million followers on Twitter, and 2 million subscribers on YouTube, with 568 million video views in total.
These numbers serve as a confirmation that GoPro is growing both its total audience and user engagement, and the company is jumping on the opportunity to capitalize on this engagement by expanding its media operations, most notably with the GoPro Channel on Xbox Live, which was downloaded more than 500,000 times in less than three weeks after launching July 22.
"We're a hardware company, but we're turning more into a content company. The camera is just the tool to get to content. ... Most people don't view GoPro as a media company, but we're quickly changing what media is."
-- Adam Dornbusch, head of content distribution
In June, GoPro brought on Tony Bates to serve as president in addition to the company's board of directors. Bates, who most recently was Skype's CEO at Microsoft and has also served on the boards of YouTube and LoveFilm, will head up efforts to scale GoPro's media operations. Other notable board members include Kenneth Goldman, CFO of Yahoo!, who has also served on the boards of companies, including Ambarella and Infinera. Venture capitalist Peter Gotcher, who serves on the boards of Dolby Laboratories, where he is chairman, and Pandora Media, joined GoPro's board in May. In short, GoPro isn't lacking in leadership talent as it expands its media operations to take advantage of growing user engagement.
Foolish bottom line
One of the advantages of GoPro's strategy, according to Woodman, is the company's laser-focus on its vision, whereas other competitors such as Sony and Garmin are competing in a variety of electronics markets -- not just video cameras. GoPro is focused on providing the best hardware and software to help its users tell their stories, and in turn to share that content with others through social media outlets and the GoPro Network. That makes for compelling and engaging content and bodes well for the continued growth of the network that is GoPro. Woodman describes this strategy as a "differentiated, defensible, and exciting business opportunity," and I am inclined to agree. This will be a challenging model for other players to successfully replicate, which is exactly why GoPro should be on Foolish investors' radars today.
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