Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This week's quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds doctors digging MySpace and a wiser way to shop.
First up this week is Sermo, which CNN recently billed as "MySpace for physicians" because of its ability to bring doctors together in a virtual community where opinions and ideas are shared.
For me, the comparison doesn't work. MySpace is too leisurely. As a writer for The Motley Fool, I see a better comparison between Sermo and what we do here. For both, community knowledge rules.
And that can be powerful. Remember the Vioxx scandal that plagued Merck (NYSE: MRK ) ? Sermo founder Dr. Daniel Palestrant told CNN that doctors in the Sermo community -- which today consists of more than 6,000 physicians from all 50 states covering 30 different specialties -- knew about it long before the media did.
Similarly, David and Tom Gardner first earned fame by helping retail investors uncover great growth stories using the Web. Iomega (NYSE: IOM ) became a multibagger for dozens of the first Fools as a result of our budding community.
But that's where the similarities end. Sermo, after all, is a real-time version of a prestigious medical journal. Look at the front page of the site. The top posts are so loaded with jargon that only a doctor could understand what's there.
And that's the point. Sermo is aimed at advancing the available universe of medical knowledge. That way, physicians will be able to deliver better and more accurate care to patients than has been possible in the past.
The idea couldn't be more timely. On Wednesday, the Department of Defense and the Department of Veterans Affairs announced that they would jointly develop an electronic health records system, which VA Secretary R. James Nicholson called "groundbreaking."
Doesn't it say something when the Feds recognize that digital access is critical for patient care? Venture investors think so. This week, Sermo announced $9.5 million in new funding from Softbank Capital and existing backers Longworth Venture Partners.
I think they're both right. Add this one to the IPO watch list, Fool.
Next up is Wize, which, in another feat of Web 2.0 wizardry, collates product reviews from across the Web to determine the highest-rated products in dozens of categories. The idea, it seems, is to make it easier to buy right the first time. (Wize's tagline is "people know.")
I'll admit to being pretty skeptical of this idea at first. But it's incredibly difficult to ignore the firm's backers. The Mayfield Fund, which has been an investor in The Motley Fool, and Bessemer Venture Partners have combined to provide $4 million in first-round funding for Wize. The deal was announced Monday.
What gives? Wize offers value that others don't, in that it compiles data from those who've had experience with the products being profiled. Other engines, like Shopping.com, rate products by their popularity -- as in, "most of our members buy this camera."
Thus, Wize has a point. I'm not at all interested in what the most popular product is. I'd much rather have the one that's best suited to what I need.
But is this a moneymaking idea? Mayfield and Bessemer seem to think so. Trouble is, there's little at the site that seems geared toward bringing in moola -- a small list of sponsored links was all I could find. So, for now, let's just call Wize a useful service. Then, when profits are obvious, we'll call it Foolish.
That's all for now. See you back here next week when we continue the quest to find the greatest growth.
For more Rule Breaking Foolishness:
High-tech. Biotech. Nanotech. Any tech. David Gardner and his Foolish band of analysts cover it all for Motley Fool Rule Breakers, and they've unearthed six multibagger stocks in two years as a result. Want to find out what they are? Try the service free for 30 days.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers, ranked 1,004 out of more than 20,900 in Motley Fool CAPS, is a sucker for growth stocks and a contributor to David's Rule Breakers team. Get the skinny on all the stocks he owns by checking Tim's Fool profile. Merck is a former Income Investor pick. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.