America's Highest-Paid CEO Shares the Moment He Knew He Made It Big

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By Rachel Gillett

GoPro has humble beginnings as an 8-employee company that sold camera straps in 2004, but today it employs more than 800 people and has made founder Nick Woodman the highest-paid CEO in the US in 2014, according to Bloomberg.

Woodman revealed during last week's Reddit AMA that he knew GoPro had made it big time in 2009.

"I first felt it coming when I used the first HD Hero [camera] prototype in the summer of 2009. I took it longboarding just north of Santa Cruz and I teared up when I watched the footage at home. I called my girlfriend, now wife, in to watch it with me and we both knew the HD Hero was going to change everything."The HD Hero hit the shelves in November 2009, the first camera in GoPro's history to offer full 1080p video quality.

"I knew it was going to change everything when I watched our HD Hero launch video, The Ski Movie," Woodman says. "That was the 'Oh s––t' moment."

"By the time we launched the original HD Hero at the end of 2009, there were only seven or eight of us," Woodman told the University of California San Diego last year. "We were doing the work of 40 people and the company that year did $19.1 million. That's crazy. Then the next year, we grew to 35 people. That was 2010, the year of the HD Hero succcess."

"The whole 'hire my friends and family thing' was great up until the HD Hero," he says, "The HD Hero was the turning point where GoPro was going to become a global success and I realized the days of keeping it small and rootsy were over or else we were going to fail. But over time, we brought in people who did know how to build departments and grow them out."
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