Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer (who also own the German language Deutsche Startups tech news site) sold their shares because “we are at the early stages” and their requirement for capital for their existing investments has “roughly tripled”, according to Oliver Samwer.
There appear to be no figures for how much their stake was worth but we can confidently say they have made their money back.
In 2008 the Samwers invested in Facebook as part of Facebook’s $15 billion valuation round with Microsoft.
But given that Facebook is now being valued at $50 billion, they will have made roughly three times as much back.
The Samwer brothers founded Alando (sold to eBay in 1999 for $54 million) and Jamba (sold to Verisign in 2004 for $273 million, now part of News Corp.). In 2006 they founded the European Founders Fund to invest in Internet businesses in the U.S. and Europe, but it’s principlally known in Germany as a clone factory which pumps out clones of US startups in the 100 million person German speaking market and sells them back to US companies when they want a European footprint.
In the US they have investments in LinkedIn, MFG, HomeAway and ReachLocal.
The Samwers were investors in German Facebook clone Studivz, which sold in 2007 €100 million and last year they sold a Groupon clone, MyCityDeal, to Groupon itself for something in the region of €100 million.
Whether you like their strategy or not – which appeals less to purist fans of innovation – they are, to put it simply, spectacularly successful at execution.