Humbling the Shameless Samwer Brothers
I have never met the Samwer brothers, so this may be unfair. But they just piss me off to no end. They've cloned Zappos, Groupon, Airbnb and now Pintrest with the shamelessly named Pinspire.
Bear in mind, I've actually defended "copycat" companies around the world. Frequently so-called clones are tailored so much to their local markets that they're no more derivative of the original than Google was from Excite or Facebook was from Friendster.
But the Samwer brothers are the worst kinds of copycats: They flit from shameless rip-off to shameless rip-off, browbeating staff and acting like gods of the universe. Worse: They've been rewarded, making a pile of money from Groupon's acquisition of their German version alone.
In my opinion, it's the worst kind of entrepreneur. There's no commitment or belief in what they're building if memos like that one above are to be believed-- they're just shallow profit-seekers.
Gregory Ray (who I don't know but just saw on Twitter) brought up a decent point in his Tweet, "Not sure what's worse: The copy cats or the giant corporations not being able to defend themselves against a clone." I somewhat agree.
But bear in mind, these guys aren't beating a Groupon or a Zappos in the US. They are quickly moving to rip them off in Europe. They are exploiting the global base of early adopters by getting to people sooner than a startup logically can. In the case of many Chinese copy cats, the insane competition and rapid iteration frequently yields companies that are locally very different. But the Samwers seem to have a lock on German talent and funding in a way no one does in China. Until now with the Oryx Project, hopefully.
Corporations are at fault when, like Groupon, they buy these companies and reward the behavior. Since that hasn't worked out so well for Groupon, future startups will hopefully think twice about throwing the Samwers barrels of cash for a copycat that is arguably built on quicksand.
So, it may be immature, but this delights me to no end. Go, Oryx Project.