Groupon clone ✓
Pinterest clone ✓
Airbnb clone ✓
Back in the day, Germany’s Rocket Internet shamelessly and aggressively copied successful startups, including the names above.
Later on, it’d often then sell the clone to the originator of the idea.
And guess what, it’d make coin. It was an innovative and unique playbook.
It also got no love. In fact, people in tech hated it.
Rocket Internet and the Samwer brothers behind it were vilified.
They were dismissed as a clone factory that simply and shamelessly copied high-growth businesses.
At the time, Uber angel investor Jason Calacanis tweeted, “The Samwer brothers are despicable thieves.”
Now, the copying of startups is happening again.
This time, it’s not Rocket Internet. This time, companies like LinkedIn, Slack, Discord, Twitter, Facebook, and Reddit, among others, have indicated plans to copy hot new audio social network Clubhouse.
And there’s been zero outcry. No vilification, no victimhood, not really a peep. Even some takes that copying Clubhouse is smart. Yup — basically just another day at the office.
So what’s changed? I asked on Twitter and got some varied and interesting thoughts in response, which I’ll share below.