LIBRARY: Tutorials Reviews Interviews Editorials Features Business Authors RSS Feed

The Other Side of GoPro's November 30, 2016 Announcement

COW Library : : Ronald Lindeboom : The Other Side of GoPro's November 30, 2016 Announcement
CreativeCOW presents The Other Side of GoPro's November 30, 2016 Announcement --  Editorial

CEO, Creative COW LLC
©2016 by Ronald Lindeboom. All rights reserved.

When GoPro management rolled out their press release on November 30th announcing that Black Friday sales demand was strong with "Solid Holiday Demand In The U.S. For GoPro HERO5," what was disclosed elsewhere in the press release seemed to bring to a boil the feelings of some investors, employees, customers and tech watchers who felt they were watching the unravelling of one of the strongest tech companies in recent years.

Taken at face value, it would be easy to read the November 30th news as an admission that GoPro was in dire straits. This, as further down in the press release, GoPro announced that their president, Tony Bates, was leaving and that GoPro would be losing about 15% of its workforce, cutting 200 full-time jobs in the wake of the closure of their entertainment division. The GoPro product line would also see models culled to leave only the most successful models.

Admittedly, those inescapable items followed the cheeriness of the headline with a disquieting thud, and were seen to be about as dark as the Black Friday sale alluded to in the press release.

GoPro Hero5, Up 35% in Sales Year-on-Year in U.S.A.

While the title declared that Hero5 sales were strong, it was what lay further down in the release that proved troublesome because it didn't follow the glow of the titular spin. Because of this glaring disconnect between the headline's bright announcement and the perceived doom-and-gloom that followed, It didn't take long for the initial boil to come to a full rolling boil as it made its way across the Net. Many hoisted GoPro onto the petard of their own success and more than a few broiled GoPro in the juices of a perceived arrogance that they attributed to GoPro's rare degree of success. It was a visceral emotional reaction like few I've seen in 25 years of being on the Internet.

Was all the rancor justified? In fairness, I am not convinced that it was.

Many antagonists seemed to be pointing to things that they clearly didn't understand, things that are not all that uncommon in business. Markets change and shift and companies do their best to adjust and take advantage of those shifts. Humans run companies and decide the course, and not every decision flies. Some crash.

Do short-term setbacks mean that the company is doomed? No, things often turn around, especially if a company has a strong customer base, manufacturing arm and a means to move product -- all of which GoPro has in ample measure.

Apple is probably the greatest example of the turn-around phenomenon in the world of tech, though there are many others that could be pointed to, as well. Let's compare a onetime Apple to what GoPro is currently experiencing…

It has long been said that great companies are not made because they make no mistakes, they are made by what they do when a mistake is made. The Apple of today is far different than the Apple of the late 1990s. Like GoPro, that Apple had tried to expand into markets and product lines that simply didn't work. There were entire product lines that were tried and failed: LCs, Performas, and the licensing of its OS was cannibalizing Apple's own sales, thanks to companies like Power Computing, Motorola, Daystar and others.

There are many other ideas that Apple tried which ended in failure, and there are many business books that portion the blame and name names. Much of the story is too ugly to write about on a beautiful Saturday afternoon, so I'll leave that to your own research and reading. Suffice to say, Apple may be the biggest company in the world today, but in the late 1990s they were the greatest example of squandered opportunity and what not to do in business.

The ride was a painful one but often the most valuable lessons are the painful ones. "You don't forget your scars," as my father used to say. GoPro's founder and CEO, Nicholas Woodman, is undoubtedly drinking from that painful experiential cup right about now. I have little doubt that his scars will remind him of the lessons, going forward.

In some ways, GoPro's recent troubles are not unlike Apple's problems in the 1990s, problems which are the outcome of drinking from the same well: the desire to dominate the market and grow by covering as many bases as possible, adding to that that you are not doing it in a vacuum and your competitors are doing their best to excel in their own efforts -- while the market itself is a dynamism outside the control of any company and has its own developing desires and needs.

But to their credit, GoPro cut away their failed experiments a lot sooner than Apple did, and for that, many investors, employees and customers have to be glad. Add to that, GoPro's founding visionary is still its CEO and that means that customers and investors can expect a degree of consistency in both the company and its products.

One thing my father taught me well, was that those who never try to do anything new, never fail -- failure is often the end result of attempting great things and pursuing new ideas.

While I have little doubt that many of GoPro's critics will focus on Tony Bates, GoPro's president who will be leaving the company at the end of the year -- what many will forget is that under his leadership, GoPro has compounded growth and has built a formidable customer base that can buy the company's cameras at most all major US retailers including Amazon, Walmart, Best Buy, Target and many others.

Today's brand conscious buyers trust GoPro and that trust, along with the major retail channels that Tony Bates will leave behind, means that a more streamlined GoPro will be quicker, more focused, and likely much more responsive to their core customers.

While some forget the very disruptive and visionary nature of the first GoPro cameras -- cameras that brought some of the most innovative and original footage ever seen -- like Apple, GoPro has a customer base that is dedicated to GoPro cameras and like the diehard customers who refused to abandon Apple at its lowest moments in the 1990s, GoPro's customer base is one that has that same sense of commitment to the tools they use and have a genuine emotional connection to.

Yes, to those paying close attention, their lens distortion and artifacting could drive a discriminating cinematographer nuts, but GoPro cameras have been capturing some remarkable footage and adding breathtaking footage to the chronicle of life on Earth.

I feel terrible for the 200 people who lost their jobs in all this and I am sure that both Nicholas Woodman and Tony Bates do, as well. I know many people in business and contrary to many media reports, very few business leaders I know are the cut-throat type who would throw away people to squeeze another nickel for the bottomline. (Yes, they exist but in all my consulting work and relationship building that I've done over the last four decades, I've yet to meet many of that ilk.)

People forget the 85% of the people who will be surviving the cuts and stranger still, and others still will fail to consider the fact that a company like GoPro now employs vast numbers of people who beforehand, did not have those jobs. That seems to be forgotten in the emotion of it all. Again, not every plan works and the costs of failure is sometimes measured in human costs.

The news from GoPro on November 30, 2016 had to be hard news to the company and its people who had not long before watched the idea that was GoPro rise as few companies have. It seemed they could do no wrong and their cameras were everywhere, doing things that no camera had done before. That and the 85% of the company's workforce who will remain at their stations seems to be getting lost in most all of what I've seen online.

Nicholas Woodman, founder and CEO of GoPro
Photo, courtesy

Few companies can grow without making mistakes. Like our children, they stumble and get up, and they learn from their mistakes. Experience is a hard teacher but it is a great teacher. I have little doubt that Nicholas Woodman will learn his lessons well, people who care often do. I have watched from a distance as Nicholas has built an incredible company on an idea that took off like some of those whose lives his cameras documented.

Years ago when I taught a business class in central California, one of the classes dealt with the subject of uncontrolled growth -- a thing that I proved in my class was tougher to overcome than under-capitalization. It is tempting to see things like the growth of the drone market and to see your products used in drones, and want to get involved yourself. But if that is not your core business, you better leave it to the pros. GoPro learned that hard lesson pursuing the Karma drone. Sometimes, admitting you took the wrong turn and direction takes more courage and leadership than pretending that you didn't.

That GoPro stumbled is not surprising to me, what is surprising is that they had such a remarkable unbroken string of success until 2016.

Now it's time to get back to work and take the lessons learned into the next chapter. I am sure that Nicholas Woodman and the team at GoPro will do just that.

# # #


Re: The Other Side of GoPro's November 30, 2016 Announcement
by Alex Douglas
That's hilarious, about 4 weeks ago I was in the room just above Nicholas Wooman's head recording a radio show for BBC Radio 2 which airs this Sunday.
Re: The Other Side of GoPro's November 30, 2016 Announcement
by Eddie Roman
I just purchased two GoPro Hero 5 Black cameras. It is the best camera GoPro has produced.

Related Articles / Tutorials:
Editing SyFy: Editor Shiran Amir on Rejecting Rejection

Editing SyFy: Editor Shiran Amir on Rejecting Rejection

When talking about her career path, you get the immediate sense that rejection isn’t a “no” for Shiran Amir. There’s never been an obstacle that’s kept her from living her dream. From editing engine maintainence videos for the Israeli Air Force to assistant-editing local celebrity news, she packed up, moved to Hollywood, and kept doing whatever it took to reach her goal of editing scripted TV and film, experiencing lots of rejection along the way. "Reject rejection!" isn't just her advice. It's what she had to do herself, and in this remarkable story, she takes you on a journey that could be like yours if you reject rejection too.

Hillary Lewis
Top RC Drones With a Camera Updated With New Drone Models for 2018

Top RC Drones With a Camera Updated With New Drone Models for 2018

Drone aerial photography is, wait for it, taking off. Whether you’re using them for recreation, to build an aerial service business, or to integrate UAS into your existing business or organization, the goal of this article is to explore ten of the best RC drones with a camera on the market today.

Creative COW
Blackmagic Design Announces Advanced New Blackmagic RAW Codec

Blackmagic Design Announces Advanced New Blackmagic RAW Codec

Blackmagic Design has introduced the public beta of Blackmagic RAW, a new and very modern codec that combines the quality and benefits of RAW with the ease of use, speed and file sizes of traditional video formats. Blackmagic RAW is a more intelligent format that gives customers stunning images, incredible performance, cross platform support and a free developer SDK.

Creative COW
NVIDIA's realtime raytracing premieres at SIGGRAPH 2018

NVIDIA's realtime raytracing premieres at SIGGRAPH 2018

Highlights include: Photorealistic, interactive car rendering. Real-time ray tracing on a single GPU. Advanced rendering for games & film. Cornell Box ??" Turn to this tested graphics teaching tool to see how Turing uses ray tracing to deliver complex effects ??" ranging from diffused reflection to refractions to caustics to global illumination ??" with stunning photorealism. Ray-traced global illumination. New Autodesk Arnold with GPU acceleration, this demo lets you see the benefits of Quadro RTX GPUs for both content creation and final frame rendering for feature film.

Feature, People / Interview, Business
Creative COW
The Ultimate Guide to Flying Drones with Dirk Dallas

The Ultimate Guide to Flying Drones with Dirk Dallas

Join filmmaker, photographer, educator, and drone pilot Dirk Dallas of "From Where I Drone" for this comprehensive guide to getting started, and getting really good, with flying drones. His practical advice covers preparation, calibration, and exercises to master for control of both your drone and its camera.

Westdoc Online interview with documentary filmmaker Marina Zenovich

Westdoc Online interview with documentary filmmaker Marina Zenovich

What do Robin Williams, Richard Pryor, Roman Polanski, and ESPN have in common? Documentary filmmaker MARINA ZENOVICH, who joins host Chuck Braverman for this episode of Westdoc Online.

Creative COW
VR Filmwork: Immersive Begins to Emerge ... Slowly

VR Filmwork: Immersive Begins to Emerge ... Slowly

Want to see a storage person's heart skip a beat ... or two? Flutter even? Just mention VR and BAM!, they get real excited. Some people think we like 360/VR just because it devours so much storage capacity. Ok that's a good reason but still the good VR stuff is really really good. Not just scare your pants off good but good to experience, enjoy, be immersively entertained, informed.

Editorial, Feature
Andy Marken
Christina Rzewucki: Thor: Ragnarok, Tomb Raider & more

Christina Rzewucki: Thor: Ragnarok, Tomb Raider & more

Christina Rzewucki is a Texture and Look Development Artist at Rising Sun Pictures. A 2016 graduate of the Academy of Interactive Entertainment in Adelaide, she began her career with the game company Monkeystack. Since joining RSP in 2017, she has applied her diverse technical and creative skills to projects including the blockbusters Thor: Ragnarok and Tomb Raider. Next month, she will be teaching the texturing component of ‘Look Development and Lighting,’ a new second year elective course associated with UniSA’s Media Arts degree.

Editorial, Feature, People / Interview
Risingsun Pictures
Could This The Real Reason Apple Wants To Ditch Intel?

Could This The Real Reason Apple Wants To Ditch Intel?

Creative COW's Tim Wilson thinks this is the real reason for Apple's announcement that they will drop Intel. Do You agree?

Creative COW
The Cinematography of Altered Carbon

The Cinematography of Altered Carbon

Today we explore the cinematography of Altered Carbon with Directors of Photography Martin Ahlgren and Neville Kidd.

Ben Consoli
© 2019 All Rights Reserved