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http://www.nytimes.com/2014/02/2 ... .html?smid=tw-share|
Copycat Business Model Generates Genuine Global Success for Start-Up Incubator
BERLIN — For Linio, think Amazon for Mexicans. For Zalora, think Zappos for Malaysians. For Easy Taxi, think Uber for Nigerians.
And for all of them, think Rocket Internet, a budding tech empire here in Germany’s capital.
From its low-key offices near the center of the city, Rocket Internet has turned the usual business model for technology companies on its head, compiling a team of high-flying finance and management specialists and arming them with the money they need to mimic already successful Internet companies — applying these proven ideas in other countries, often in emerging markets.
Since starting in 2007, Rocket has backed about 75 start-ups in more than 50 countries that now generate more than $3 billion in annual revenue and employ about 25,000 people.
The business model stands in sharp contrast with the ethos that dominates Silicon Valley, where originality is perceived as the main currency for successful start-ups. It also has raised questions over whether Europe’s tech sector, where Rocket is a major player, can ever foster the same level of innovation that has led to a conveyor belt of successful American tech giants like Oracle, Google and Facebook.
The copycat approach of Berlin's Rocket Internet incubator is nothing new. The U.S. copied Europe during the 19th/20th centuries. Japan and the "Four Tigers" copied the U.S., which are being copied by China and others now. Copy accelerates innovation. As the saying goes: "Imitation is the highest form of flattery." Even the U.S. Patent Office recently switched from the "first to invent" to the worldwide convention of "first to file" in order to accelerate innovation and prevent inventors from sitting on patents. http://nyti.ms/1fXJ3v1