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GoPro's CEO Nick Woodman: 'We failed to make GoPro contemporary'

After a rough couple of years, GoPro is embracing the smartphone, CEO Nick Woodman told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Thursday.

"Our mission has never changed, ... which is that we believe that there's a megatrend of consumers who are visually expressing and sharing themselves more and more online," Woodman said. "Where we fell out a little bit in our post-IPO years was that we failed to make GoPro contemporary and failed to align with the smartphone movement."

The company, known for action-packed, first-person footage, has struggled to capitalize on its initial buzz, amid rapid improvements in smartphone cameras. Woodman said the company is now going to make it easier to move footage to smartphones.

At about $8.50, the stock trades well below its $24 a share IPO price.

Nick Woodman, GoPro Founder and CEO
Mark Neuling | CNBC
Nick Woodman, GoPro Founder and CEO

"We've recognized over the past couple of years that we need to focus keenly on one customer, and that is the person who buys a GoPro," Woodman said. "In the quarters after going public, we were making different investments, placing different bets. Some of those bets didn't work out. And we're refocusing."

Investors were also dismayed last year after the company recalled its drone, which had already faced delays and steep competition. Woodman said GoPro is still committed to drones, as it gives the company robotics experience in anticipation of future "breakout" robot products.

GoPro shares rose 14 percent on Thursday, after the company announced cost-cutting measures and forecast first-quarter earnings at the high end of guidance.

The camera company said it expects revenue for the quarter on the high end of the $190 million to $210 million range. It also said it would slash 270 jobs. Woodman said the company has shifted its culture toward efficiency and will cut costs "dramatically."

The company said it expects the full year to end with positive earnings before interest taxes, depreciation and amortization.

"Sales are good," Woodman said. "It's all good signs that we are improving our business, and that's something we intend to build on throughout the year."