Germany’s most prolific startup investors, the Samwer brothers, have axed three of their clones in one fell swoop. We have learned that eCareer (jobs), DealStreet (penny auctions) and Mybrands (designer clothes) will no longer be supported by the Samwer incubator Rocket Internet.
eCareer, a jobs board for white collar professionals launched in 2009, has struggled to make any headway against market leader Experteer. Staff at eCareer say a rescue effort is underway, but with Samwer brothers Oliver, Alexander and Marc pulling out and industry watchers saying the company needs at least €3m to stay afloat, the chances of attracting new investors are slim. Senior management appears to agree: a glance at Xing reveals that Christopher Muhr, one of the MDs, is now working for City Deal; Oezgür Cakir, previously the CMO, is already in a new job at eBay Germany.
DealStreet, a Swoopo clone, will be taken offline this week just four months after Rocket Internet first invested. One part auction house, one part virtual casino, the website allows users to buy virtual „bids“ for 50 cents and potentially win expensive consumer electronics for a fraction of their retail price. Like Swoopo, the company has struggled with a business model that looks genius on the face of it, but which suffers from a lack of customer loyalty and fierce competition from offshore operators. Most of DealStreet’s staff have already been migrated to other companies in the Rocket Internet portfolio: eDarling (dating), City Deal (vouchers) and Zalando (shoes).
The other e-commerce casualty, Mybrands, looks to be a strategic sacrificial pawn as the Samwers refocus efforts on Zalando. Despite performing well, Mybrands had the misfortune of significantly overlapping with Zalando, a designer shoe outlet. Sources say the plan now is to expand Zalando’s offering to include the sort of designer garments sold via Mybrands, so a merger is on the cards. Alternatively, Mybrands – a clone of Dress-For-Less – could merge with Brands4Friends. In either case, it’s unlikely to be a merger of equals given Mybrand’s current predicament.