Based: San Francisco, CA

Founded: 2003


Why it’s Fierce: JiWire, which literally means Joining Invisible Wires, runs a directory of WiFi hotspots and sells ads that are delivered over WiFi provider networks. What makes JiWire particularly compelling is the San Francisco-based firm’s new take on ad-supported WiFi that allows users to avoid the ads by paying a monthly fee, otherwise the ads will appear prior to gaining free Internet access at hotspots.

JiWire’s ad platform is built upon a registry of more than 150,000 verified public hotspots and municipal networks. Since launching, JiWire has signed on more than 20 WiFi network partners. In addition, the firm is working with major national brands such as Microsoft, Dell, Sony, Charles Schwab, Land Rover and Hilton Hotels.

JiWire was quick to jump on the iPhone train. The firm announced earlier this month that it had launched a version of its Wi-Fi Finder optimized for Apple iPhone users.

What to look for: Analysts believe that ad-supported WiFi networks could be particularly appealing to dial-up Internet users who are unwilling to pay for broadband speeds. Look for JiWire to continue to add big brands to its advertising cache and take advantage of the many municipal WiFi networks that are rolling out in cities across the U.S.