Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to find budding Rule Breakers reveals cell phones that have an edge and more evidence that your TV room is about to play host to Silicon Valley.
First up this week is Amp'd Mobile, a mobile virtual network operator -- or MVNO -- that offers edgy content for cell phone users, such as ultimate fighting and supercross racing. It's also the subject of the largest venture investment so far in 2006, according to VentureWire. Amp'd received $150 million in third-round financing from Tudor Investments, Rho Ventures, Quilvest Ventures, Polygon Investment Partners, and Heights Capital Management. Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) and Intel's (Nasdaq: INTC ) investment group were also involved in the deal.
I can appreciate the enthusiasm. MVNOs have the potential to be a massive-growth market for both telecoms and operators. Take Amp'd, for example. It broadcasts a wide range of content that includes MTV shows over Verizon's (NYSE: VZ ) mobile network. Amp'd is the face to the customer, while Verizon, MTV, and other content owners get a slice of the profits. MVNOs offer a pretty sweet arrangement -- one that has attracted Disney (NYSE: DIS ) and its ESPN sports network. ESPN's service is available now, while Disney Mobile is scheduled to launch this summer. Heck, even hip-hop star P. Diddy has entertained the idea of starting an MVNO.
My guess is Amp'd is only the first of many virtual operators you'll hear about in these digital pages. And that may be good news for Rule Breakers subscribers: Openwave (Nasdaq: OPWV ) , an active selection of the service, is one of a handful of firms supplying the digital equivalents of picks and shovels to MVNO pioneers.
Next up is Widevine, a start-up that provides security for Web-based TV broadcasts, including video on demand. (For example, the company claims on its website to be the dominant provider of software for securing Internet-broadcasted video via set-top boxes.) The technology has caught the eye of several investors, including Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCO ) , reports VentureWire.
Cisco joined Telus, a Canadian telecommunications firm, and four other investors in supplying Widevine with $16 million in series C financing, according to a press release issued yesterday. VentureWire, however, highlighted Cisco's role. That makes sense. This is, after all, the network king that invited itself into millions of homes via a $6.9 billion buyout of Scientific Atlanta. If Widevine is part of Cisco's investment portfolio, perhaps another buyout, or a similarly strategic partnership with a major network, isn't far behind?
That's all for now. See you back here next Friday when we continue the quest to find the next ultimate growth stock.
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Fool contributorTim Beyersnever got the whole extreme sports thing, but he'd better learn quick. Get this -- his brother-in-law test-pilots Honda motorcycles for a living. Stay safe, Kevin. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. You can find out what's in his portfolio by checking Tim's Foolprofile. Intel is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. The Motley Fool has an ironcladdisclosure policy.