Let's start this week with Google. Or, more specifically, Google envy. Seriously, have you ever seen so many copycats emerge to copy a ... copycat? I haven't.
What's that? Oh, come on. Don't look at me that way. You know Google didn't invent search. Or instant messaging. Or email. But it has found a way to make big profits from each, and that's what has brought forth the clones. The latest may be Yelp.com, a site that blends the ultra-hot social networking space with search.
The idea, it seems, is to develop a network of community members who post recommendations of their favorite restaurants, bookstores, clubs, museums, and the like. Any public venue is fair game. Visitors have the choice to browse all locations in the Yelp database, or just rated locations. It's even possible to follow favorite community members, referred to as Yelpers. But there's a catch: Each search yields a sponsored result, typically the first in the displayed list, according to VentureWire. Interestingly, that wasn't obvious when I visited the site this morning.
Regardless, the idea makes sense. And surely, we here at the Fool know and appreciate the power of community. Yet there are so many social networking sites, there are bound to be both some failures and some acquisitions. At least one venture capital firm, Bessemer Ventures, which was also an early financier of Skype (which last month earned a $4 billion payday in a merger with eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) ), appears to believe Yelp is likely to be among the latter. Monday it gave the firm $3 million in a Series A round of funding, according to VentureWire.
Next up is Nanosys, which, like Rule Breakers pick Harris & Harris (Nasdaq: TINY ) aims to commercialize the promise of nanotechnology, yesterday again dipped into the private equity market. This Series D round brought in $40 million, bringing its total private equity financing to $95 million. El Dorado Ventures was the lead investor.
What's interesting about Nanosys isn't the 400 or so nano-related patents it owns, but who it works with. Lead VC El Dorado, for instance, has brought several of its portfolio companies public, notably Earthlink (Nasdaq: ELNK ) and Novellus (Nasdaq: NVLS ) . And several of its firms have been sold to tech heavies like Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) and Rule Breaker Universe member NVIDIA (Nasdaq: NVDA ) . That bodes well for Nanosys and its investors, but not nearly as much as its partnership with Intel (Nasdaq: INTC ) does. The chip maker has established an impressive nano track record and is flush with cash, which makes it a natural suitor.
Sadly, there were no Baby Breaker public offerings this week, which means it's time to say good bye for now. But do check in on Monday. We'll be posting a review of the quarter's past Baby Breakers and offering our view of the two most promising. And, of course, be sure to come back next Friday when we continue the quest for the next ultimate growth stock.
For more Rule-Breaking Foolishness:
- Is XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR ) good or bad? You tell us.
- If you're going to invest, invest like you mean it.
- Some Rule Breakers are simply outrageous.
eBay is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor pick.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers wonders when Web-based firms are going to stop with the silly names. Seriously. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what is in his portfolio by checking Tim's Fool profile. The Motley Fool has an ironclad disclosure policy.