Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This time, our ongoing quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds us buzzed on buzz and begging for change.
First up this week is Nimbuzz, a Netherlands-based company that's being funded by the same firm that gave Skype its shot, long before eBay (Nasdaq: EBAY ) agreed to pay as much as $4.2 billion for the company.
You'll know why if you study the business model. Nimbuzz hopes to do for mobile phones what Skype does for landlines. Sound intriguing? It is. Nimbuzz fools cellular networks into believing that its members are talking locally, even if the conversation stretches from Denver to Cape Town.
Yet Nimbuzz is but one of many that hope to provide Skype-like service on the go. Baby Breaker iSkoot, for example, allows you to put your Skype buddy list on your phone. And in December, eBay and British service provider 3 UK inked a deal to bring Skype to certain Nokia (NYSE: NOK ) handsets.
Competition might limit Nimbuzz's upside, if it weren't for the rapid growth of the service. Nimbuzz is available in more than 30 countries today and is certified for more than 500 phones. What's more, MIH, a South African media company that is an operating subsidiary of fast-growing Naspers (Nasdaq: NPSN ) , is a partner.
And an investor. Along with Mangrove Capital Partners, an early backer of Skype, and Holtzbrinck Ventures, MIH last week contributed $10 million to Nimbuzz in its first round of funding. Put this one on the IPO watch list, Fool.
Live long and prosper
Next up is Prosper Marketplace, which first appeared in this column last February and which has engineered more than $70 million in loans to date.
But Prosper is more like eBay than Washington Mutual (NYSE: WM ) , Wells Fargo (NYSE: WFC ) , or any other bank. You see, Prosper doesn't underwrite loans; its members do. And some of its members are Fools. We even have a discussion board dedicated to the service.
The allure of Prosper is obvious. Applicants avoid the mountain of paperwork they'd face at a bank. Lenders reduce risk by teaming with other Prosper members when funding loans. Prosper gets a cut every time a deal is completed.
Trouble is, Prosper doesn't have the backing of a bank, which may be keeping some from trusting the service. Well, no longer. Last week, Prosper completed a third round of financing worth $20 million. Last year, Prosper took in $12 million. Watch out, WaMu.
See you back here next time when we continue the quest to find the greatest growth.
For more Rule Breaking Foolishness:
- Check in with our last litter of infants.
- Some growth stocks are unloved.
- Find your investing answers here.
- Check on the latest list of top growth stocks.
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EBay is a Stock Advisor selection. Washington Mutual is an Income Investor recommendation.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 4,814 out of more than 31,000 rated players in our Motley Fool CAPS investor-intelligence database, is a sucker for growth stocks and a contributor to the Rule Breakers team. Tim owned shares of Nokia at the time of publication. Tim's portfolio holdings can be found at his Fool profile. His thoughts on growth stocks, Foolishness, and investing in general may be found in his blog. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.