Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This time, our ongoing quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds us playing semantic games while the feds sun themselves.
First up this week is Daylife, which may be the closest thing I've yet seen to the Semantic Web in action.
Confused? Step into the Wayback Machine, Sherman. We're headed to May 2001, when
World Wide Web creator Tim Berners-Lee teamed with James Hendler and Ora Lassila to pen an article for Scientific American titled "The Semantic Web." In it, the trio asserts that the Web will ultimately be transformed by software agents programmed to search for meaning rather than content, thereby fostering connections and vastly increasing our ability to glean value from what we do online.
Now, raise your hand if you think Google lets you search by meaning today. Of course it doesn't. Web 2.0 is barely in the works. And Business 2.0 -- why does everything have to be 2.0? -- just published an interesting profile of Radar Networks, a potential Baby Breaker that is working on Semantic Web agents that could disrupt everyone in the search business -- from Google (Nasdaq: GOOG ) to Yahoo! (Nasdaq: YHOO ) to Baidu (Nasdaq: BIDU ) to IAC/InterActiveCorp (Nasdaq: IACI ) . Better still, the grandson of management guru Peter Drucker is leading the effort.
Color me impressed. Yet my years following tech tell me that the Semantic Web, which I consider to be inevitable, is more likely to arrive with a whimper than a bang, which -- finally -- brings me back to Daylife.
Daylife searches for connections among news, events, people, photos, and the like, which are then expressed on a Web page that looks like a portal. I'll understand if that doesn't immediately strike you. A portal is a portal, right?
Not exactly. Think of how you use Google. Let's say you're searching for information about Apple's iPhone. Google will get that for you. But if your browsing also piques your interest in Palm's Treo, you're probably going to have to start a new search, except if you're using Daylife. All you'd do then is click on a link for "Treo," and a new page, with more related content, would appear. See? You're browsing with context, with meaning.
So far, Daylife appears to be in its earliest stages, but venture investors like what they see. Three firms agreed to provide Daylife with $8.3 million in financing this month. Keep this one on your watch list, Fool.
Next up is ... the entire solar industry. I mean it. According to VentureWire, the U.S. Department of Energy plans to spend as much as $27 million to fund 10 solar energy start-ups. You read that right: 10 start-ups.
On the one hand, seeing the feds fund solar power could very well be the catalyst that enables wider adoption and, thereby, a bigger market for the earliest players, such as First Solar (Nasdaq: FSLR ) , Evergreen Solar (Nasdaq: ESLR ) , and SunPower (Nasdaq: SPWR ) . Estimates have the solar industry more than tripling, from $15 billion to $50 billion, within three years.
On the other hand, solar technology remains in its early adopter phase as a consumer alternative, and it's very likely that up-and-coming Breakers will overtake the current industry leaders. My advice: Watch this space carefully, but don't invest unless you've found something unique.
See you back here next time, when we continue the quest to find the greatest growth.
For more Rule Breaking Foolishness:
How great is growth? Seven stocks in the market-beating Rule Breakers portfolio, which includes Baidu, have at least doubled. Care to find out what they are? Get 30 days of free access to the service right now. There's no obligation to subscribe.
Palm and Yahoo! are Stock Advisor selections.
Fool contributor Tim Beyers, who is ranked 2,705 out of more than 31,200 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 didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article 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.