Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds me wondering when Mr. Peabody will show up with the WABAC machine. You remember Mr. Peabody, right? The super-genius dog, along with his adopted boy assistant, Sherman, would use the WABAC -- pronounced "wayback" -- to relive important moments in history during the Rocky and Bullwinkle Show.
I'm reminded of all this today as I read about FundingUniverse.com. The website is a networking site that proposes to match entrepreneurs with investors. In that sense, it seems a lot like an online bazaar of the variety that helped Ariba (Nasdaq: ARBA ) and the now-defunct Commerce One reach stratospheric highs during the dot-com days. Does that mean the bubble is -- gasp -- back?
It sure seems like it. Consider the business model. According to VentureWire, FundingUniverse.com offers business plan hosting for free and then relies on premium services to earn sales. One service is called -- get this -- "speed pitching," which is like speed dating, except the ideal endgame is a check instead of breakfast at the local IHOP.
Look, I get it. FundingUniverse.com may be filling an important gap in the venture market and helping the search for angel investors. But when websites for doling out moola are once again the new thing in private equity, I have to wonder whether the market is plagued by too much cash and not enough good ideas. It sure seems like it's that time again.
Meanwhile, Clearwire Corp. is another company that reminds me of bubble firms that spent themselves into bankruptcy. Funded by billionaire investor and cellular pioneer Craig McCaw, Clearwire recently filed a prospectus for a public stock offering. The idea, says VentureWire, is to create a broadband wireless network that could, one day, replace cellular as our primary mobile communications infrastructure. Cool, right?
Right. But remember, many companies promised revolutions during the dot-com days. Some, like Akamai (Nasdaq: AKAM ) and Amazon.com (Nasdaq: AMZN ) , succeeded. Most, however, failed when funding dried up. Clearwire could face a similar fate. The company owes more than $250 million, with interest payments equaling roughly one-third of revenue during 2005. And as the prospectus says, the company "will need to obtain significant additional financing, both in the short term and long term, to make future capital expenditures, cover operating expenses, and service our existing debt."
In other words, the $400 million that VentureWire says Clearwire expects to raise from an IPO will likely be just the beginning as financing costs continue to grow. Be sure to stay vigilant if you choose to invest in this potential Breaker, Fool.
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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