GoPro, the company that revolutionized action sports selfies with its affordable and ruggedized high-definition camera has initiated the layoff of up to 300 employees, mostly those associated with its Karma drone division.
The drone division, which really never took off after a poorly executed launch which saw drones falling from the sky with power failures, faces even bigger problems as the use of its drone products becomes more and more regulated, both here and abroad, to meet privacy and air-safety standards.
The drones are a cheap method to facilitate real estate photography, perform maintenance checks without undue personnel risks, and – unfortunately – take embarrassing or unauthorized pictures. Some counter-intelligence agencies are also worried about the weaponization of drones or their ability to interfere with aircraft.
Management, of course, made with the corporate-speak, telling employees that the layoffs were necessary “to better align our resources with business requirements.” It is no secret that GoPro’s stock is depressed and the company is struggling. Some analysts doubt that the niche company can recover its former luster given the proliferation of drone manufacturers from China. In addition, offerings from larger and well-financed camera competitors like Sony and Nikon are looming in the near future.
However, the secret sauce is the drone's stabilization system which can be plugged into a hand-unit to produce great stabilized footage with a light-weight portable unit. I would not be surprised to find that the company morphs into a complete source-kit for video production, including editing and effects software, in the near future.