With GoPro, A Media Company Takes Shape

on Sharethrough Events

GoPro is much more than a consumer electronics manufacturer. They're really in the business of content enablement.

So claimed Zander Lurie, the company's Senior Vice President of Media, speaking at NATIVE 2015, the premier native advertising conference presented by Sharethrough.

"We sell products—cameras, mounts, accessories, etc—but the ethos, and the culture of the company, is built on content enablement," Lurie said during a one-on-one conversation with Sharethrough President Patrick Keane.

Lurie's statement will come as no surprise to those familiar with GoPro, a company whose rise from surfer's pipedream to tech behemoth is as awe-inspiring as any of the feats captured by its signature cameras.

In its IPO filing in 2014, GoPro claimed it was "investing to scale GoPro as a media entity." And it has taken steps to make good on that promise, striking distribution deals with the likes of Roku and Virgin America.

Lurie mentioned GoPro's hiring of Charlotte Koh, who used to lead Hulu’s original content initiatives. In her new role, Lurie said, Koh will work on "off-platform features and series," which he described as "anything with movies, cable, digital shorts that would be amazing with GoPro."

GoPro-produced branded content may also be around the corner. "We will do series in the future for specific advertisers and brands," Lurie stated, stressing that they will not work with just any brand. "If we think it's a super high-quality product and it can tell a great content experience...those are the kind of partnerships you'll see us doing."

Despite all the talk about content experiences and GoPro's push into media, Lurie did concede that hardware is, for the moment, GoPro's largest and most important business unit, bringing in $419 million in revenue last quarter. He hinted at what may be their next breakthrough product: a quadcopter.

"A lot of people are already using GoPros with makeshift devices and we thought [a GoPro-built quadcopter] could be a great new revenue stream for us and [...] should produce some amazing content," Lurie said on stage.

But GoPro's long-term vision, Lurie emphasized, is focused on empowering its end users, the limits-testing daredevils and the stroller-pushing dads, not just to produce great content, but also to make money from that content.

"We're rolling out more and more ways for creators and editors to get paid for their video submissions," Lurie said.

The end goal is to create an "ecosystem" of content creators, similar to the massive (and lucrative) community YouTube has grown around itself.

"The best companies, the largest market cap companies, are the ones where [there is] an ecosystem," Lurie said.

GoPro may not have the market cap of Google's YouTube just yet, but with 350 million subscribers and nearly a billion views on the GoPro YouTube channel, the camera-maker turned media company is well on its way.

More from NATIVE 2015:
Inside The Walled Gardens: How Time Inc. Is Distributing Content On Other People’s Properties
How LinkedIn Supports The Professional Journey—And Profits From It
The Atlantic and Netflix's Native Ad 'The Ascent' Takes Top Awards At Native Creatives