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Could a Partnership Save GoPro?

By Travis Hoium – Nov 17, 2018 at 10:19AM

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GoPro may not bring enough to the table to attract a partner.

GoPro Inc. (GPRO 2.67%) is in a tough position both financially and strategically today, and that can lead a company to take desperate measures. For years, rumors have swirled about a possible sale, and CEO Nick Woodman suggested an alternative when he said recently, "We are open to a partnership." 

Woodman seems to want to explore options to keep GoPro afloat without selling outright. Why the company needs a partner says a lot about GoPro, and the fact that a partner hasn't materialized says even more. 

GoPro's Hero7 lineup of cameras.

Image source: GoPro.

How a partner could help GoPro

There are a few reasons GoPro wants a partner. One is that a partner could scale GoPro's footprint and sales. This could include helping develop new products or incorporating GoPro products or technology into other products. 

Folding into another company's ecosystem could also be a win-win for GoPro and a partner. Garmin (GRMN 0.39%), for example, has dabbled in the action camera market as an adjacent product to sports watches and other GPS products. But it hasn't taken much market share from GoPro, so a partnership could help both companies. 

GoPro may also look at a partnership as a way to lower operating expenses, which is a big thorn in its side. Particularly in sales and marketing, GoPro could use a lot of help getting its products on store shelves and getting the word out about them without spending hundreds of millions of dollars by itself. Again, Garmin is a company that has similar kiosks in similar stores, and the two working together may help costs for both. 

Why would anyone partner with GoPro? 

The reason a partnership may not materialize is that GoPro doesn't have a lot to offer partners. Its product lineup is small, and after product failures like the Karma Drone and the Session lineup of cameras, it's not clear the brand is particularly strong either. 

If GoPro were bringing excitement to another brand or a draw to a retailer, it would make sense to form a partnership. But the brand has been beaten up over the past three years, and competitors like DJI and Garmin are building their own camera technology into products, reducing the need for GoPro's technology. 

Smartphone deals like the one GoPro signed with Huawei to include GoPro's photo editing software in phones haven't moved the needle either. There's simply no easy answer for GoPro, and as much as the company may want a partner that can throw its weight behind the action camera company, it doesn't have a lot to offer in a deal. 

GoPro's rough path continues

New products appear to be selling well for GoPro, but the company still has a difficult path back to profitability. Its product lineup is small, and expenses to develop and sell those products are high. Without a partner helping out, GoPro doesn't seem to have a clear path to growth. Management wouldn't mind finding a partner to help out, but I don't see who would make a splashy deal with GoPro or what GoPro would bring to the table for a larger company. 

Travis Hoium has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends GoPro. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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