Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds a slippery slope to profits and a deal with plenty of bounce.
First up this week is SensorTran, a company that really ought be of interest to BP (NYSE: BP ) . You know the story by now, right? On Aug. 6, BP was forced to shut down its Prudhoe Bay oilfield because of corrosion discovered in one of its pipelines. As a result, 400,000 barrels per day were suddenly removed from the U.S. supply, or roughly 8% of U.S. production.
But it was a disaster that may have been prevented with SensorTran's technology, which, according to its website, measures temperature "over the entire length of a critical asset." I understand if that sounds confusing. Here's how it works: SensorTran has a device that sends signals over common fiber optic lines. It's those signals that allow for calculating temperature and other key indicators of structural integrity.
Why fiber optic lines? Telecommunications firms long ago decided to use oil pipelines to host infrastructure. Doing so simply made practical and economic sense. Accordingly, fiber optic lines are in the unique position of being able to check almost every mile of active pipe in the U.S.; SensorTran merely wants to put that position to good use. At the very least, it seems more efficient than the X-ray and ultrasound samples BP has used to test pipe integrity.
Investors have reacted to the news of Prudhoe Bay differently. Some current BP shareholders are suing the company, accusing it of negligence. Venture investors, on the other hand, are pouring money into SensorTran. VentureWire reports that the 10-year-old firm has received $5.5 million to complete a spin-off from parent Systems & Processes Engineering Corp. Financing was provided by Expansion Capital Partners, WHEB Ventures, and Stonehenge Capital.
Next up is Boingo Wireless, which on Wednesday raised $65 million in a third round of funding. Boingo is a Wi-Fi affiliate network covering 45,000 hot spots. Software, a subscription, and a password grants users wireless access in 76 countries and international territories.
Impressive, right? Sure it is. The problem is that practically everyone wants to be in the Wi-Fi business, and some, like Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) , want to make access free. But that still won't help business travelers much. Airports, lounges, coffeehouses, and similar locations tend to charge for wireless service. And they're the easiest locations to spot when you're on the road. Signing up for service each time at each location isn't that difficult, but it is annoying (believe me, I've done it), which is why I believe there's a market for Boingo's service.
That doesn't explain the size of the deal, though. I attribute that to management. Sky Dayton, founder of EarthLink (Nasdaq: ELNK ) , founded Boingo in 2001 and remains its chairman today. It's a good bet the VCs backing Boingo know all about the billions he created at EarthLink by making life just a little easier for digital denizens. Like them, I'm inclined to believe he can do it again.
That's all for this week. See you back here next Friday when we continue the quest to find the next ultimate growth stock.
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Fool contributorTim Beyersdigs his Wi-Fi as much as his Starbucks. Tim didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Get the skinny on all the stocks he owns by checking Tim's Foolprofile. The Motley Fool'sdisclosure policyis smooth as silk.