UCSD Alumnus Becomes Highest Paid CEO

Nick Woodman, CEO of GoPro and a UCSD alumnus, was recently named the highest-paid CEO of 2014, according to Bloomberg Magazine.

Woodman, whose salary is $284.5 million, replaced Charif Souki, CEO of Cheniere Energy, who earned $281 million in 2013, as the highest paid CEO at the end of 2014. Additionally, Cheniere Energy also reduced Souki’s pay in 2014, which makes Woodman the highest-paid CEO.

GoPro earns $634 million in quarterly revenue and Woodman is listed at an estimated $2.4 billion according to Forbes Magazine.

Woodman credits his time at UCSD as the source of his company’s origins and conception. 

“This is actually where GoPro started, you could argue. It’s where I learned about my love of visual arts and photography, love of surfing, and GoPro is really the combination of my passions in the form of a business,” Woodman said in an interview with CBS News. “I got very lucky as an entrepreneur that I could combine my personal passion with business. So I owe UC San Diego a ton for helping find who I really am.”

However, Woodman might not have even attended UCSD if he hadn’t appealed the rejection letter the school sent him — an action which led to him being admitted to the university. 

Woodman graduated from UCSD in 1997, majoring in visual arts and minoring in creative writing. After his marketing company FunBug failed, Woodman traveled around the world, surfing. The self-made billionaire was inspired to create the GoPro Camera while trying to record himself surfing in Australia and Indonesia on a handheld camera.

After developing the GoPro camera, a high-definition camera able to capture still photos and videos and which can easily be attached to a helmet or wrist, a Japanese company purchased 100 GoPro cameras for a sports event in 2004. In 2012, GoPro sold over 2.4 million cameras, and the Chinese electronics company Foxconn invested over $200 million in GoPro.

Woodman believes that his hard work and perseverance got him to be where he is. 

“To everyone [at] home watching, I am not that smart. I am just that dedicated,” Woodman said. “You have to be a little maniacal to see things through. You don’t need massive intellect, you just need massive perseverance.”

According to Woodman, the reason he majored in visual arts and created GoPro was that he wanted to use creativity to engage and interact with people.

“It was to be creative with a purpose and get your message or belief across through creative work in a manner that really engages your audience,” Woodman said. “So they come away believing in the message you were delivering to them.”

Ever since his company’s success, Woodman has been featured in numerous magazines, articles and newspapers. He was listed in Fortune Magazine’s 40 under 40 list, which lists 40 influential people in business under the age of 40. Moreover, Woodman was featured as a guest shark in ABC’s hit TV show, “Shark Tank.” Woodman currently lives in San Mateo with his wife and two children.