It’s been early a month since GoPro, Inc. announced the departure of Zander Lurie and a round of layoffs that accounted for 7% of its work force. But according to the company’s new VP of Entertainment, Ocean MacAdams, GoPro is “in great shape” as it prepares to take on both product and platform in 2016.
This week at Digital Entertainment World, MacAdams took the stage to discuss the future of GoPro, fresh off its 31% decline in revenue at the end of 2015, and gave highlights of the core growth areas it will explore as it moves to become a media company.
“We came out with a fantastic camera in 2015 — The Hero 4. But the reality was it was priced maybe a little too high, and there wasn’t a ton of marketing around it,” said MacAdams in reference to the company’s under-performance in 2015. “I think the company recognized its mistake, upped the marketing, and got the price to where it was appropriate.”
Despite the reality that GoPro’s stock price is at an all-time low, MacAdams was bullish about the big plays the company will make this year in supporting the creative community and commissioning and rolling out a slate of programming, as well as in virtual reality — an area where the camera company is already ahead of the curve.
“Obviously, we are incredibly bullish on VR,” he told the crowd. “We are both a producer and enabler of VR. We are developing a 6 camera rig with Google around the jump platform. And this year we are producing a six-camera prosumer rig [announced in early 2015] which we are excited about. And then, on the production side, I would argue that we are producing some of the best VR out there.”
“Right now, the best uses of VR are capturing incredible moments, and putting you right there in the middle of the action,” said MacAdams during the fireside chat at DEW. “That is pretty much the description of what GoPro has traditionally done. We have produced some fantastic VR and we are ramping that up over the next year.”
MacAdams noted that they would continue to produce some of that content in-house, but were also eager to start teaming with outside production companies to create more VR content as GoPro functions as a distribution platform.
GoPro will take a similar approach to its own slate of linear-like programming, according to MacAdams. But as GoPro looks toward becoming a media company that includes UGC and self-produced content, any video is simply a means to an end — marketing the GoPro cameras, accessories and technology.
“Great programming for us is great marketing, and many times great marketing is great programming,” he said.
So the company allocated over $5 million to empower the creative user generated community to take GoPro entertainment to the edges of greatness with production budgets rewarded to the top performers, in an approach not far from YouTube’s own creator programs.
While MacAdams wouldn’t commit to any specifics about their production plans, he did allude that GoPro would be making announcements of new platforms, partners and content later this year.
“A lot of strategy has been laid down,” he added. “The reality is that, while we are going to build a robust media business, we are going to show people the amazing things that you can do with GoPro. We are not there yet, but you will be seeing some exciting stuff.”