Contour6With a bid of $1.925 million, investment company Clarke Capital Partners has emerged as the prevailing bidder for the assets of Contour Inc., the Seattle-based action-camera company that abruptly closed its doors in August in the face of tough competition from its larger rival GoPro.

The sale, which resulted from a competitive auction by a court-appointed receiver, has been approved by the court but still needs to be finalized by the parties.

Clarke Capital is an existing Contour investor. Assuming everything goes through, Clarke Capital plans to bring back the Contour business and brand, confirmed James Clarke, the CEO and managing partner of the Utah-based investment company, speaking with GeekWire via phone this morning.

Clarke acknowledged that part of the investment firm’s motivation is preserving the capital it has already invested, but he said Clarke Capital sees itself as a business operator first, and an investor second.

“We think it’s a great business,” Clarke said of Contour. He said he believes the company is positioned to be “a great Pepsi to GoPro’s Coke, and it deserves an opportunity to resurface.”

barrosgreen
Jason Green (left) and Marc Barros co-founded what became Contour as University of Washington students who wanted to record video on the slopes.

The struggles of Contour highlight the intense competition in the market for wearable cameras, used by mountain bikers, snowboarders and other outdoor sports enthusiasts to capture point-of-view footage of their escapades. That competition will only escalate as general-purpose competitors such as Google Glass enter the market. Contour defaulted on nearly $7.5 million in loans prior to closing.

Some of the former employees of Contour would be offered a chance to return to the company if the sale goes through, but overall it would be a “much lighter organization,” Clarke said.

Clarke said he loves Seattle, but added that it may ultimately make more sense to locate the new Contour in Utah, given Clarke Capital’s presence there. A final decision on the location hasn’t been made, he said.

Apart from formalizing the asset sale, another outstanding issue that needs to be resolved is the status of more than 32,800 Contour cameras held by PCH International, the product development company that oversaw the manufacturing of Contour cameras under an agreement with the Seattle company.

jamesclarke
James Clarke (via LinkedIn)

Those cameras held by PCH are specifically excluded from the assets to be sold to Clarke Capital via the court-appointed receiver. Clarke said his company is in discussions with PCH about the situation, and is hopeful that they can reach an amicable resolution.

PHC said in court filings that it reserved the right to sell the Contour cameras on its own to help make up for what it estimates to be its $3.6 million in damages in the Contour case.

According to court records, competing bidder Industrial Revolution offered $2.075 million for Contour’s assets, but its bid would have included Contour’s accounts receivable, which were excluded in Clarke Capital’s bid — making the Clarke Capital bid effectively higher.

Contour, founded in 2004 by Jason Green and Marc Barros, faced stiff competition from GoPro, whose parent company Woodman Labs raised $200 million from Foxconn last December in a funding round that valued the venture at $2.25 billion. Contour raised total venture capital of around $16 million, and Green said after the closure that he believed Contour’s location in Seattle factored into that disparity.

“We’ve been a hardware company in a software town,” Green said at the time, saying it was difficult at times to get the attention of the region’s software-oriented investors.

Clarke said this morning that he hopes to honor the original vision of the company’s founders. Green remained with the company prior to its closing, and Barros had left the company earlier this year.

We’ll continue to follow the Contour story as it unfolds. Many Contour customers have been emailing GeekWire about the status of cameras that they had sent in for repairs, and we’ll also provide updates on that issue as we get details.

Comments

  • http://StartedinSeattle.com/ Stephen Medawar

    I hope this turns into a great turn-around story. It’s a superior product in many ways.

    • http://www.gadgetme.net tlampen

      Totally agree. I have the countour+2 and I have so many more mounting options due to its tubular profile vs Go Pro’s awkwardly square profile. I love my contour!

  • Nick

    Great news. Contour is awesome.

    • Rob

      I have just recently been checking reviews and my choice is the Contour first….just found out they closed the doors…hope they come back

  • http://www.atebymonsters.com Matt

    It’s good to hear someone wants to bring the company back to its original vision, but I think it’s going to be a hard road to travel bringing the brand back to market. Seeing a lot of the comments on their Facebook page when the closure hit with people asking why support wasn’t responding, etc… The brand is already damaged on the customer service side.

  • Robert Kacala

    got idea how to get the market back….we could be great partners….ps: I prefer PEPSI

  • http://twitter.com/chrisamccoy Chris McCoy

    Wonderful news!!

  • Lacy Kemp

    Geekwire, thanks for staying involved in this for the long haul. It’s appreciated.

  • M Shorey

    Contour looks cooler than GoPro and is better cutting through the wind with less drag. A big deal at 100mph. DeadCatDot

  • John Moore

    Good news.. I have a brand new DEAD camera (used three times) and now there is hope I can get it fixed.. Thanks GeekWire for reporting on this…

  • Jason

    My camera was sent in for service and received the day after they closed. $350 device sitting in limbo

  • JR

    happy to hear this news..contour has it’s great qualities for it to be a great action camera…hopefully they will succeed and further improve..

  • Pablo

    Very excited at the possibility of getting my camera back from repair as well. This was my second Contour and I very much like this design over the go-pro. The first thing you hear from go-pro videos? “Is it on?”

  • seayvr

    What about software like storyteller,

  • Ryan Gramza

    Yes contour is much better than the gopro design, & RageCams has lens changes for the contour camera to eliminate the fish eye and also produce night vision.

    • Ro

      I drowned my contur camera during diving so I needed a new one. I very recently purchased a Contour Plus 2 , believing that the company will come back. Their product is just great…they just lack marketing, especially in Europe were the products are little known.

  • barrie22

    Recently I was really, really low on cash and debts were eating me from all sides! That was UNTIL I decided to make money.. on the internet. I went to surveymoneymaker dot net, and started filling in surveys for cash, and surely I’ve been far more able to pay my bills! I’m so glad, I did this! – 04jf

  • Cameron

    Does anyone know if and where firmwear updates are availabe for the ContourGPS?
    Thanks
    Cameron

    • Eutah

      Follow them on Facebook as they have links on dropbox to firmwire updates for all models and the storyteller software.

  • JESSE CARTER

    I WON MY FIRST CONTOUR1080 HD. I HAD BEEN FOLLOWING CONTOUR FOR ABOUT A YEAR. I UNGRADED TO CONTOUR +. RUN BOTH. I WAS READY TO UPGRADE AGAIN TO A CONTOUR +2 WHEN THEY CLOSED. I’VE LOOKED AT OTHER COMPANY CAMERAS. NOT PLEASED AT ALL. I AM LOOKING FOR CONTOUR TO RETURN. MAYBE THEY COULD GET THEM TO MORE STORES. I HAVE TO GO 100 MILES OR MORE AND THEN ORDER WHAT I NEED. GOOD LUCK

    • Pixel Junkie

      OKAY!

  • martin

    Hi, I noticed that Contour went bust and tried to look for an alternative!
    There’s really none. I live my Roam2 therefore I hope they will be able to fix their finances and come back. (GoPros look funny on peoples heads)

  • sc0ch

    This is what I’m buying in January, much more elegant than GoPro, how can I get some of that PCH inventory!

  • mountainlove

    Just got the Contour +2, and WOW, it’s just awesome. The video quality is stunning and the laser sighting and seamless bluetooth to my Iphone 5c is choice. Looking forward to Contours reprise and seeing new products!

  • William Sheehan

    Yes, a great product, love my two Countour’s . . . However, anyone that simply lock their door and leaves any number of it’s employees in the lurch tells me that these persons involved (especially Green and Barros) are complete pacific northwest slime balls. . . They KNEW what was happening. . . The least they can do is level with their employees privately. . . . But NOOoooooo! . . . They to the typical pacific northwest chickensh!t move and hide like a mouse. . . Green, Barros and any that assisted them in this, I hope they get hit by a bus. . . . For the record, I grew up and live in the pacific northwest, . . so I’m perfectly qualified at saying the things I say about the personal that live here. . . Most pacific northwesterners SUCK!

  • H Bruijsten

    Yeah well, it’s still better than GoPro! :)

    and there is really no camera to compare with..

    and I think Contour is a positive and good brand…

    and People with a GoPro on the head do look funny!

    I love my Contour!

    Greetz from the Netherlands

  • Billy Ellis

    I hope they restart. I use this for my Engineering business. For my use, it is not a toy but something that improves the way I do business substantially. Its the GPS capabilities in an affordable camera that works for me. In addition there are software folks out there utilizing the Contour+2 video / GPS capabilities for use in mapping software.

  • Gary

    We need Contour back with good marketing structure and a good sales representatives in the stores. Without question they are the best on the market. I have bought 4 and I have 3 Go Pros 1 Hero3, I do not like trying to decide if it is recording for the entire 30 minutes v/s contours 2.5 hour record time and Iphone monitoring app. it is the best. I have not use Go Pro since my first Contour purchase and i will not. You have my support to revive the company. I live in Utah looking forward to having it in my back yard.

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