Vringo Stars: The Mark Cuban Story

And Vringo (AMEX: VRNG  ) was its name-o.

Shares of the mobile app developer opened 29% higher this morning after an SEC filing showed that Mark Cuban -- yes, that Mark Cuban -- took a 7.4% stake in the company. Cuban has purchased a little more than a million shares of the company.

Vringo is best known for its Facetones app that matches incoming smartphone calls from friends with visual "ringtones" using their Facebook pictures. The snapshots are presented as a slideshow during the call.

Vringo's other apps include Video ReMix, which allows users to remix licensed music videos, and Fan Loyalty, a social platform that ties in to participating reality TV shows.

Vringo was a forgotten stock last year, and understandably so. The company rang up a mere $718,000 in revenue, offset by more than $7.1 million in operating expenses. However, more than a few things have gone right for Vringo so far in 2012.

  • In February the company announced that Facetones had surpassed a million downloads. It also settled a naming dispute with Facebook itself over the app's name.
  • In March Vringo agreed to merge with Innovate/Protect, a holding company consisting primarily of eight potentially promising patents from Lycos.
  • The successful IPO of social gaming leader Zynga (Nasdaq: ZNGA  ) has drawn attention to mobile app specialists, resulting in big gains out of Vringo and Glu Mobile (Nasdaq: GLUU  ) .

Vringo has been one of this year's hottest stocks, more than quadrupling by this morning's open.

Cuban's intentions aren't as clear as his public Shark Tank deals. His presence alone won't make Vringo a winner beyond today's pop. He has certainly had his share of winning investments, but taking stakes in digital media researcher Rentrak (Nasdaq: RENT  ) and interactive media and connectivity services provider LodgeNet (Nasdaq: LNET  ) hasn't transformed those companies into billion-dollar babies.

Having Cuban on board is great for attracting attention, but now Vringo's fundamentals will have to start carrying the load.

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz calls them as he sees them. He does not own shares in any of the stocks in this story. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.


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