Germany is starting to build a name for itself as the startup cloning capital of the world. German clones of popular U.S. services keep popping up. Twitter (Frazr, Dukudu). and Facebook (Studi.vz) are two recent examples. TechCrunch contributor Gregor Hochmuth termed these German clones Copy/Paste innovation.
The latest German clone, Verwandt, means “related” in English. Its design and functionality is very similar to its U.S. counterpart, Geni. In fact it goes well beyond similar – Verwandt is a Geni clone dressed up in some cuddlier graphics. It uses the same layout and quick sign-up flash-based registration form as the U.S. site. They’ve also copied the family tree navigation and profile pages. Take a look below to judge the similarities for yourself.
The motivation and business process is clear: 1) Find a proven concept in the U.S. or elsewhere, 2) Clone the service, 3) Profit. And they have been profiting off these clones quite a bit. The Samwer Brothers have invested in Alando.de (eBay clone sold to eBay) and Studi.vz (Facebook clone sold for $100 million). They’re also investors in Frazr. See Gregor’s post for a longer list of clones. Certainly other countries, including the U.S., engage in their fair share of cloning as well. However, the flood of clones coming from Germany suggests an unwelcome trend.
Verwandt seems to be cloning some of Geni’s success as well. They have over 1.5 million profiles in under 2 months of operation, compared to Geni’s 5 million. They’ve also secured an undisclosed level of financing, most certainly helped by Geni’s $100 million valuation.
There’s a lot of great innovation going on outside the U.S., but this rip and flip mentality may prove short-sighted as the real McCoys continue to innovate and internationalize, and solid German startups like Xing are forgotten in the controversy.