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Inside money, markets, and Big Tech

This article was published on January 16, 2008

European money for the Valley: Samwer brothers invest in Facebook

European money for the Valley: Samwer brothers invest in Facebook
Ernst-Jan Pfauth
Story by

Ernst-Jan Pfauth

Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He a Ernst-Jan Pfauth is the former Editor in Chief of Internet at NRC Handelsblad, as well as an acclaimed technology author and columnist. He also served as The Next Web’s blog’s first blogger and Editor in Chief, back in 2008. At De Correspondent, Ernst-Jan serves as publisher, fostering the expansion of the platform.

facebookThe Kopy Kat Kidz, German Internet entrepreneurs Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer, have invested in Facebook, reports TechCrunch this morning. They’re famous for bringing international successfully concepts to German soil – hence the Kopy Kat nickname – yet now they seem to have changed their strategy. So here comes the European money, Silicon Valley!

It fits perfectly in the trend of US based social networks developing local editions of their pages. Facebook probably just wants their knowledge and local market insights, which the Samwer family definitely has. Some examples of their copies of international success stories:

  • Back in 1999, the Samwer brothers created the German auction site Alando, basically a Ebay rip-off. Ebay solved it monopolist-style and bought the site months later for 43 million dollars.
  • After that they started Jamba, a ringtone company. Millions of people still hate them for the irritating, yet successful, Crazy Frog ringtone. I don’t think the Samwers care though, since they sold Jamba to US based company for 273 million dollars in 2004.
  • They’ve invested in German Twitter look-a-like Frazr.com
  • German student networking site StudiVZ also got some help from the three Samwers. Before they sold it to a German publishing group for 100 million euro they reportedly tried to sell it to Facebook in return for a five percent stake.

So they failed in their last try, but now they’re back using their knowledge of the German market internationally. Is this the beginning of a trend: European investments in US based companies in order to create local sites?

[WebTipr: David Petherick, United Kingdom]