Welcome back to Baby Breakerdom! This time, our ongoing quest to uncover budding Rule Breakers finds us seeking our musical soul mate and sleeping through a computer repair.
Making profitable music together
First up this week is uPlayMe, which has created a piece of desktop software that connects users according to their tastes in music and videos. Call it matchmaking for the musically inclined.
Or don't. That's not how company founder and chairman Don Pelson sees it. He's more interested in uPlayMe as a research tool. How? The software acts in concert with media applications, such as iTunes. Each time a user plays a song or video, uPlayMe records the choice and then, in real time, searches for members with similar tastes. Every chord offers an opportunity to connect and, in the process, creates a deeper and richer database of musical tastes.
Think of how valuable that could be to labels Sony (NYSE: SNE ) , EMI, and Warner Music (NYSE: WMG ) . Pelson certainly sees dollar signs. You see, he's not just uPlayMe's founder -- he's also a senior vice president at Warner Music, which led uPlayMe's second round of financing.
Here's how Pelson described the allure of the business to VentureWire: "This will impact how Warner reaches the consumer. The big picture is getting a deep understanding of what consumers want."
Is it all about the money?
Pelson's pitch for uPlayMe raises an interesting question: Is all social networking nothing more than a marketing ploy? Let's assume that it isn't for now. At what point does social networking break down? Won't we tire of meeting other people?
My guess is yes. And no. Broad-based social networking sites have their place -- MySpace surely does -- but there's a point at which I'm not interested in why your dog only sits still for Full House reruns. (And it takes me about five seconds to get there.)
On the other hand, a social network dedicated purely to my obsession with stocks is probably a winner of an idea. Wait. Don't I already work for a site like that? Let's move on.
My point is that a social networking service can do quite well if marketing dreams take a seat well behind the more pedestrian act of creating something useful. UPlayMe, which combines two of the world's most common passions -- music and dating -- appears to be plenty useful. Add this one to the IPO watch list, Fool.
Free towing for your computer?
Next up is PlumChoice, a five-year-old services and support company that uses the Web to connect directly to your computer and other electronics (e.g., MP3 players and personal digital assistants) to perform repairs, wherever and whenever you need them. Circuit City (NYSE: CC ) is a partner.
Color me intrigued by this idea, if only because tech support horror stories like this one from fellow Fool Jack Uldrich are all too common. And it follows an idea we consumers are already used to. You don't call a plumber to get advice on how to fix your pipes on your own.
What's Rule Breaking here is how accessible the service is. Unlike Geek Squad, which is now a unit of Best Buy (NYSE: BBY ) , PlumChoice needn't show up in a black, orange, and white VW beetle. Convenience matters and sleeping through a repair sounds just dandy to me.
If there's a potential problem here, it's with security. Can you really trust that your data won't be hacked by the same guy who's supposed to be fixing your PC at 2 in the morning? PlumChoice seems to think so, but your only assurance is that the company would be forever doomed were a breach to occur.
Venture investors, who committed $4.8 million in a second round of financing last week, seem to believe that's enough. I agree. Now if PlumChoice would just hire some Mac experts, I might be able to outsource tech support.
For more Rule Breaking Foolishness:
- Check in with our last litter of infants.
- Some growth stocks are unloved.
- Check on the latest list of top growth stocks.
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Tim Beyers is a regular contributor to Fool.com and the Rule Breakers team. He didn't own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this article at the time of publication. Find Tim's portfolio here and his latest blog commentary here. The Motley Fool's disclosure policy is a rebel on Wall Street.