What started as one surfer's idea to tether a video camera to his wrist to record his exploits on the ocean became a $3.5 billion empire Thursday, when GoPro Inc. began trading on Wall Street in one of the largest IPOs by a consumer hardware company in decades.
GoPro shares began trading at $28.65, 19 percent above the price the company set late Wednesday. By midday, the share price topped $33 before closing at $31.34, up 30.6 percent for the day. The sports video-camera maker had priced shares at $24, the high end of the $21 to $24 range offered in its IPO filings, fending off pressures to raise the amount. With 17.8 million shares available, the stock was reportedly 20 times oversubscribed.
GoPro raised at least $427.2 million in its public debut, becoming the largest consumer electronics IPO since Duracell, which went public in 1991 and raised $433 million, according to investment research and data provider Dealogic.
"There probably hasn't been a consumer electronics brand as dominant as GoPro has been in its category since the early days of the iPod or the iPad," Dougherty & Co. analyst Charlie Anderson said in a note to clients.
The company began trading on the Nasdaq stock exchange under the ticker symbol GPRO. Executives rang the opening bell Thursday morning, with a crowd surrounding them chanting "Hero" — the name of the company's high-definition camera.
Surfer Nicholas Woodman first conceived GoPro more than a decade ago as a strap to tether film cameras to surfers' wrists. In 2009 the company released its high-definition camera, a small and lightweight gadget that can be taken to the ocean floor, through a blizzard or miles above earth; without glitter or flair but durable enough to survive most crashes and tumbles. Since 2009, the company has sold about 8.5 million cameras.
GoPro has been able to woo investors with revenue that grew 125 percent in 2012 and 87 percent last year, and — a rarity for a tech company on its public market debut — profits.