GoPro's shares shoot up 32 percent in first day of trading

Going up against the camera world's heavyweights, the portable camera startup makes a smashing debut on the stock market.

Dara Kerr
Dara Kerr Former senior reporter
Dara Kerr was a senior reporter for CNET covering the on-demand economy and tech culture. She grew up in Colorado, went to school in New York City and can never remember how to pronounce gif.

A GoPro camera can mount onto helmets, handlebars, surfboards, and more. GoPro

In its first day of trading, GoPro has proven that it can make good on the stock market. The portable video camera maker's shares shot up 32 percent above their initial public offering on Thursday.

The 10-year-old company priced its IPO at $24 a share on Wednesday, at the high end of the expected price range of $21 to $24. This price gave GoPro a valuation of nearly $3 billion when it began trading on the Nasdaq stock market under the ticker symbol "GPRO" this morning. By early afternoon, share prices were trading as high as $33 per share. At market close, GoPro's share price was $31.34.

The San Mateo, Calif.-based company makes high-definition, low-cost video cameras meant to show the exploits of everything from extreme athletes to toddlers and dogs. The GoPro cameras are compact, no-fuss devices that dispense with manual controls and other distractions. Instead, their primary virtue is that they fit in housings that can endure all manner of abuse and be clamped onto helmets, handlebars, surfboards, and more.

According to GoPro's IPO documents, the company has shown sequential revenue growth for the past full three years. In 2013, GoPro generated revenue of $985.7 million, which is up from $526 million in 2012 and $234.2 million in 2011.

For decades, Japanese companies like Canon, Olympus, Pentax, and Nikon have dominated the camera market, with only modest adjustments as consumer electronics companies like Samsung and Sony arrived. But GoPro, something of an underdog, has found a strong niche even as smartphones have steadily replaced cameras in many people's lives.