What started as one surfer's idea to record his exploits on the ocean became a $3.8 billion empire Thursday when GoPro began trading on Wall Street in the largest public market debut by a consumer hardware company in two decades and set in motion what could be the busiest summer for IPOs in years.

GoPro's triumphant Wall Street debut -- its shares soared more than 30 percent -- is largely its own making, but many tech companies will benefit from its success. GoPro's IPO -- the second largest in Silicon Valley in the past year -- has warmed up the market for big companies such as Alibaba and emboldened tech firms to price their shares higher, according to analysts.

"This is a great year to IPO," said Jacqueline Kelley, who oversees U.S. IPOs for research and consulting firm Ernst & Young. "It's not just companies that are mature businesses. This market is open for innovation and really welcoming entrepreneurs."

GoPro's public debut comes on the heels of the busiest IPO quarter in a decade and just in time to heat things up for the traditionally slow summer quarter. In spite of a market cool down in April, when tech stocks tanked and IPOs came to a screeching halt for about two weeks, the second quarter saw 91 companies go public, up from 62 during the same quarter last year and 33 in 2012, according to a report out Thursday from Ernst & Young.

This year through Monday, there have been 144 U.S. IPOs raising $30 billion. That puts the IPO market on pace for the busiest year since 2000, both by dollar volume and number of deals, according to investment research and data provider Dealogic, and Silicon Valley companies represented about 14 percent of the IPOs. An additional 87 companies are in the IPO pipeline and are expected to raise a combined $10.9 billion, according to Ernst & Young. They include Alibaba, the Chinese Internet giant that will list on the New York Stock Exchange as early as August and is poised to be the largest tech IPO in history.

The IPO for GoPro, the maker of pocket-size video camcorders for athletes, "is a great sign for the IPO market in general, and now market conditions are great for Alibaba to come in early summer," said Matthew Turlip, senior analyst at firm Privco.

The successful GoPro debut may also begin to push up the price on public offerings, Turlip said. Over the past few months, facing pressure from investors who became skittish after the market slowdown, more companies have priced shares low. GoPro on Wednesday priced shares at $24, but the stock opened 19 percent above that, at $28.65, and almost immediately soared past $30, finally closing up 31 percent at $31.34.

The San Mateo company raised $427.2 million to become largest consumer electronics IPO since Duracell, which went public in 1991 and raised $433 million. And out of 53 companies from Silicon Valley that went public since January 2013, GoPro raised more money than all but Twitter, which raised more than $2 billion. By market close on Thursday, GoPro had a valuation of $3.86 billion, tying it with San Jose-based semiconductor company Atmel as the 58th largest market cap among Silicon Valley tech firms, according to an analysis by this newspaper.

"There probably hasn't been a consumer electronics brand as dominant as GoPro has been in its category since the early days of the iPod or the iPad," Dougherty & Co. analyst Charlie Anderson wrote in a note to clients.

Bay Area surfer Nicholas Woodman first conceived GoPro more than a decade ago as a strap to tether film cameras to surfers' wrists. In 2009 the company released its high-definition camera, a small and lightweight gadget that can be taken to the ocean floor, through a blizzard or miles above Earth; without glitter or flair but durable enough to survive most crashes and tumbles. The GoPro business also includes a line of accessories that attach the camera to just about any piece of equipment -- helmet, bike frame, snowboard, surfboard or ski pole.

"It's led to perspectives of life never thought possible," Woodman said Thursday in an interview with CNBC. "The engaging, immersive, 'Oh my God, that is incredible.'"

Many GoPro users celebrated with the company Thursday, posting videos of their latest extreme sports feat and cheering the company on social media.

Lindsey Holtaway of San Francisco summed up the sentiment of many users in a tweet to the company: "Please keep making awesome things."

That's just what GoPro must do, now that it has investors to please each quarter. With declining revenue from camera sales, the company is looking to become a full-fledged media company, offering channels that stream the video GoPro users film with their cameras. It has already partnered with Microsoft for a channel on Xbox and launched its own channel on Virgin America flights, but said it won't make any revenue from those partnerships this year. Analysts say GoPro's strategy will be expensive and may take years to pan out.

In the meantime, competition is already mounting, and if someone finds a way to sell sports action cameras cheaper than GoPro's $200 to $400 price, the company could be in trouble.

"There's a source of young, new consumers that is plentiful, and the challenge GoPro faces is someone coming in and seeing what they are, or trying to replicate it, and beating them in price," said Ben Arnold, industry analyst with the NDP Group.

Contact Heather Somerville at 510-208-6413. Follow her at Twitter.com/heathersomervil.