News Column

Biz Break: GoPro snags ex-Skype CEO as IPO market revs engines

June 4, 2014

By Jeremy C. Owens, San Jose Mercury News

June 04--Today: GoPro brings in Tony Bates to help develop San Mateo company's media ambitions while in a crowded IPO pipeline. Also: Pandora slips amid federal investigation, Apple keeps growing.

The Lead: GoPro brings in new exec amid Silicon Valley IPO prep

Action-camera company GoPro brought on a seasoned executive in a top role Wednesday as the San Mateo company heads toward an initial public offering along with a host of other Silicon Valley companies that have waited out a tough time on Wall Street.

GoPro announced Wednesday that it had hired former Skype CEO and Microsoft executive Tony Bates to serve as president of the company, second in command to founder and CEO Nick Woodman. After the Microsoft CEO job went to Satya Nadella instead of Bates, he will instead look to help GoPro find a way to monetize the preponderance of videos that users are uploading daily from their cameras.

"As president of GoPro, Tony will focus on our core business as well as scaling GoPro's fast-growing media operations," Woodman said in the announcement.

GoPro publicly filed for an IPO last month, showing three straight years of profitability with growing sales that nearly hit $1 billion in 2013. Continuing revenue growth is not assured, however: The company's sales in the first quarter of 2014 declined from the same quarter in 2013, a worrisome sign as the company heads out for its "road show" that will allow investors to ask tough questions of executives.

With Wednesday's hire -- which also brought in venture investor Peter Gotcher to join the board along with Bates -- GoPro seems to be setting up its answer for that question, adding the former Cisco exec to shore up its plans to capitalize on the video its fans create.

"We plan to pursue new revenue opportunities from the distribution of engaging GoPro content in the near term," GoPro said in its filing with the Securities and Exchange Commission, including deals to carry the company's video offering and advertising on them, with revenues expected to begin appearing in the second half of 2014.

GoPro is one of several Silicon Valley tech companies planning to enter the public markets after an IPO slowdown in the second quarter amid huge declines for post-IPO companies in the region. After Zendesk rebooted the market with a successful offering last month, two companies are expected to price their offerings this week on Wall Street, and both are from Santa Clara: Networking firm Arista Networks and biotech Radius Health.

Arista Networks would be the third Silicon Valley networking company to go public this year, after successful offerings from San Jose's A10 Networks and Sunnyvale's Aerohive Networks in the first quarter. Radius Health has twice delayed its IPO in a volatile biotech sector that was hot early in the year but has flatlined since.

Behind those companies in the pipeline are big names such as Los Altos cloud-storage company Box, which is reportedly planning to move on its offering in the coming weeks after delaying it due to Wall Street volatility; and Alibaba, which is eyeing a debut on Aug. 8 for good luck, according to a Wednesday report. More companies are preparing an IPO that could take advantage of any momentum those companies provide, including Brisbane biotech CareDX, which filed for a $50 million IPO on Wednesday.

SV150 market report: Pandora slips while dealing with investigation

Wall Street gained Wednesday with Silicon Valley tech stocks paving the way, but Pandora Media failed to get in on the upsurge as it faced a federal investigation.

The Department of Justice announced Wednesday that it will investigate the fees Pandora and similar services pay songwriters, which are governed by consent decrees put in place in 1941. The amount Pandora pays for the rights to stream songs on its online radio service has been a hot-button issue for the company and the music industry and led to multiple lawsuits, but Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter said in a Tuesday note that "any change in the system should have minimal or no impact on Pandora's royalty rates going forward." Pandora also released its audience metrics for May on Wednesday, which showed continuing gains in listener hours and active listeners for the Oakland company's service; it was Pandora's final monthly release of the numbers, which they announced would end earlier this year. The company's shares fell 0.4 percent to $24.52 on the day thanks to late gains; earlier in the session, Pandora traded as low as $23.10.

After breaking its post-WWDC losing streak Tuesday, Apple continued to gain amid growing bets on the Cupertino company returning to record-breaking highs, adding 1.1 percent to close at $644.82. SunPower recorded the biggest percentage gain in the SV150 on Wednesday, improving by 7 percent to $34.25 as the San Jose solar manufacturer was chosen for a large solar-power project in Nevada and the United States added to tariffs on Chinese solar panels. Google and Twitter struck up a partnership Wednesday, coming together to ensure access to information during crisis situations; Google fell 0.1 percent to $553.76 after offering a new email-encryption option, and Twitter gained 1 percent to $32.90 as its service received a spot on the Xbox One. LinkedIn began rolling out a redesigned profile look and added 0.4 percent to $156.40, and Hewlett-Packard gained 0.2 percent to $33.76 after disclosing dealings with North Korea. Netflix added 1.4 percent to $423.21 while continuing to fight with Verizon about Internet speeds, and Trulia declined 0.4 percent to $37.90 while laying off 85 workers at its Bellevue, Wash., offices.

Up: SunPower, AMD, Netflix, Workday, Apple, Twitter, Facebook, Applied Materials, Juniper, Electronic Arts, Gilead

Down: Zynga, SolarCity, NetApp, Cisco, Tesla, Pandora, Splunk, Oracle, Intel, Yelp, Google

The SV150 index of Silicon Valley's largest tech companies: Up 5.47, or 0.38 percent, to 1,459.7

The tech-heavy Nasdaq composite index: Up 17.56, or 0.41 percent, to 4,251.64

The blue chip Dow Jones industrial average: Up 15.19, or 0.09 percent, to 16,737.53

And the widely watched Standard & Poor's 500 index: Up 3.64, or 0.19 percent, to 1,927.88

Sign up for the 60-Second Business Break newsletter at www.siliconvalley.com. Contact Jeremy C. Owens at 408-920-5876; follow him at Twitter.com/jowens510.

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(c)2014 the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.)

Visit the San Jose Mercury News (San Jose, Calif.) at www.mercurynews.com

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Source: San Jose Mercury News (CA)


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