Roman’s Rants: Rocket Shmocket
28th August 1 Comment
It’s about time to get the ranting juices flowing again. Why? Because recently, all my social-timeline-thingies are full of references to Rocket Internet, Zalando and all the other heroes of the Samwer universe. For many, the business history of the three brothers from Cologne seems to be the recipe for commerce fame & fortune. Well, let them. But if the pundits of the interwebs join mainstream media to perpetuate the same myths over and over again it’s fucking too much!
Let me confess something to you first: When I see the occasional video of Oliver Samwer talking on stage, I can’t help thinking “wow, wouldn’t he have made an excellent member of the cast in Inglourious Basterds?” I mean, high-pitched voice, thick German accent, the willingness to use the phrases “Blitzkrieg” and “sign with blood” in written conversation – if Tarantino would have had any clue about eCommerce at the time, he’d called and casted him back then, I’m absolutely certain. (That was a cheap shot, sorry, but it felt so good!)
Here’s my take on this: there’s a clever, highly ambitious business-trio with a solid education and an even more solid financial background, thinking about how to best make money on the internet – and acting on it. Back at a time when most people were having conversations on ICQ or putting animated GIFs on their Fortunecity websites, they were cloning eBay for Germany, selling this site to eBay shortly after and making their first millions when the rest of the world worried about an upcoming Y2K-bug catastrophe. Fifteen years have passed since then, business concepts have been cloned and rolled out internationally. In doing so, the Samwers gained deep knowledge regarding scaling: technologically, organisationally, financially. Hats off, no mean feat at all.
This is where the story could end, but it doesn’t, which brings me back to the reason I’m writing this. Allegedly, we will see an IPO of both Rocket Internet and Zalando in the near future, so it helps for journalists (including cheeky me) to go all haywire about it by continuing the narrative. (I wonder whether there’s such a thing as a valuation-per-newsreport ratio, maybe someone could find out.)
But maybe I’m too harsh about this. Maybe, the Samwer story serves as an inspiration and predefines possible career paths. I mean, what would all the WHU graduates and former McKinsey consultants do? Or all the other young and fresh webworkers who buy into the 18-hour-working-your-arse-off-days and work-hard-play-hard bullshit? Let them all buy Zalando shares and clone the master cloners. And let’s leave them in bloody peace and get on with our own business, shall we?
(Image by Steve Jurvetson)