Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds maximum funding for WiMax and more evidence of a private-equity bubble.
That was following an aborted attempt to go public in May. Now, Clearwire wants to try again. On Tuesday, the company filed a new prospectus with the SEC. Why now? A Jupiter research analyst told VentureWire that Sprint Nextel's (NYSE: S ) $3 billion commitment to WiMax, which can broadcast Internet signals over many miles, may have made Clearwire's IPO more marketable.
Maybe so, but the financials aren't any prettier. It doesn't look that way at first, though. Clearwire more than quintupled sales, to $76 million, though the first nine months of 2006. Nice. Now, here's the problem: Clearwire had $43 millionin interestexpense over the same period. Do the math -- 56% of revenue was needed to pay creditors.
That's just awful. Yet I can't bring myself to condemn the stock offering. Here's why: Save for satellite radio and select cable broadcasts, all of the best content is finding a home on the Web. Witness YouTube and iTunes. If this trend continues, isn't it fair to conclude that a Web-based network is inevitable? And, if that's true, then won't consumers eventually want to have access instantly, wherever they are? I'd say so.
Clearwire faces enormous challenges financially and competitively. That's why I won't be a buyer at the IPO. Nevertheless, the idea of universal WiMax is highly appealing. At the very least, it's a massively destabilizing move that could undercut every network operator on the planet -- from content-driven networks such as Sirius (Nasdaq: SIRI ) and XM Satellite Radio (Nasdaq: XMSR ) to classic telcos such as AT&T (NYSE: T ) and Qwest (NYSE: Q ) . That alone makes this a stock story worth following.
Next up is Seven Networks, which, like Visto, Research In Motion (Nasdaq: RIMM ) , and recently acquired Good Technology, has a service that brings email to mobile phones. Last Thursday, the company announced a new CEO and $42 million in new funding.
What's so special about that? Nothing, and that's my point. Seven, which has patents for its technology, may very well be an innovator. But it's hardly the top dog and first mover in an important, emerging market. That's still RIM.
Besides, with Gmail, Yahoo! Mail, and instant messaging, it's not clear to me that having always-on, direct-to-phone access to email is as groundbreaking or important as it once was. More instructive to me is the way that VentureWire described the deal. Quoting: "Mobile email software developer Seven Networks Inc., smelling opportunity following Motorola Inc.'s acquisition of competitor Good Technology Inc., has raised $42 million in funding ..."
In other words: Why not tap those who are chasing the dream of huge returns while there's still plenty of private-equity money to put to work?
Sure, why not? (Sigh.)
That's all for now. See you back here next week, when we continue the quest to find the greatest growth.
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Fool contributorTim Beyers, ranked 1,305 out of 18,145 inMotley Fool CAPS, didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story at the time of publication. Get the skinny on all of the stocks he owns by checking Tim's Foolprofile. XM is a former Rule Breakers pick. AT&T is a former Stock Advisor pick. Intel is a current Inside Value selection. The Motley Fool'sdisclosure policyis a rebel on Wall Street.