Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds us playing games and wandering through a small town.
First up this week is AirPlay, which aims to win over armchair quarterbacks by giving them a game to play as they watch the game on TV. Confused? Allow me to explain. "Live Football," as it's known, is like that network-connected trivia game you play in a bar; players across the country compete to see who's smartest. Only, with AirPlay, contestants can be anywhere the game is on, and the combatants do battle via cell phone, calling out plays each time the ball is snapped. Points are earned for every correct guess.
Venture and corporate investors both seem to like the idea. A group that includes JK&B Capital, Redpoint Ventures, Motorola (NYSE: MOT ) , and Qualcomm (Nasdaq: QCOM ) provided $14 million in second-round funding this week.
I, too, like the idea, because it appears to have an addictive quality to it. More than 11,500 players are registered on Live Football's leaderboard as I write. We here at the Fool knows something about the power of addictive business models, having launched Motley Fool CAPS a few weeks back. Today, the site has over 10,000 players actively rating stocks, some of who are so seriously addicted that they've created a 12-step program.
Could a similar problem be forming among players of Live Football? It sure seems possible to me. At the very least, it's worth mentioning that mobile gaming is a positively explosive market. Juniper Research estimates that the total market for mobile gaming will grow from $3 billion in 2006 to $10.5 billion in 2009. That's a compound growth rate of more than 50% over the next three years.
Qualcomm senior director of gaming Mike Yuen best explains the story behind the stat. Writing for the gaming industry site Gamasutra.com, Yuen argues that much of the global growth will come from Asia, where barriers exist to further encroachment from PCs and gaming consoles. Consider India. With more than 1 billion people, many of who are tech-savvy, a ripe market exists for just about anything deployable on a mobile phone. So, AirPlay, is Live Cricket in our future?
Next up is Smalltown, which recently launched with $3 million in initial funding from Formative Ventures. The idea is to use the Web to create sites that link communities by involving the community participants themselves.
I'm struck by the idea because it's so reminiscent of a company my wife worked with during the dot-com heyday, Neighborhood Link. That company never quite took off as well as either of us had hoped, but the idea of linking busy neighbors with each other and nearby services using common experience always seemed important to me.
Take babysitters, for example. We see neighbors who aren't close friends maybe once a year for a block party. But with three kids we're starving for babysitting help. We'd kill (or at least maim) for good info on locally recommended babysitters who are looking for work. The same goes for mechanics, plumbers, painters, and so on.
Smalltown offers a forum for exactly these sorts of discussions, which it fosters through Webcards -- or brief digital pitches -- for businesses in the community served. So far, our former home of Burlingame, Calif., and neighboring town San Mateo are online. Both look good but there are some notable flaws, like the babysitting site for Burlingame that included a Webcard for an art studio.
Nevertheless, community continues to rein supreme on the Web and Smalltown offers an interesting way to exploit that truism. I'm therefore adding it to my personal watch list of Baby Breaker IPO candidates.
That's all for now. See you back here Friday when we continue the quest to find the next ultimate growth stock.
For more Rule Breaking Foolishness:
- Check in with last week's posers.
- Make sure you buy the right puppies.
- Take a break from work. It might do your portfolio good.
High tech. Biotech.Nanotech. Any tech. David Gardner and his Foolish band of analysts cover it all forMotley Fool Rule Breakersand they've unearthed four multibagger stocks in two years as a result. Want to find who they are? Try the service free for 30 days and find out.
Fool contributorTim Beyersdidn'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 a rebel with a cause.