Send In The Clones: Startup Raises $90 Million To Copy Other Startup
from the interesting-strategies dept
For all the talk of companies “copying” each other, it’s always interesting to see how things work in practice. Last year, we wrote about the excellent book Copycats, which discusses both successes and failures in companies that simply try to copy others. In general, what it finds is that merely copying someone else isn’t enough to be successful. You have to innovate, and do something better to be a success. But, one of the “easy” targets, if you want to just copy and still find a market, is to copy in a different territory. For example, it’s well known that for every successful US internet startup, a near direct clone pops up in China pretty quickly. The same thing happens in Europe at times as well. But sometimes things get odd.
There’s been a ton of buzz lately around the startup Airbnb, which a lot of investors apparently weren’t impressed with early on, but which has been able to build up pretty massive adoption pretty quickly, leading to stories of it apparently being about to raise $100 million on a staggering $1 billion valuation. That seems a bit rich, but in the world of Winner Take All economics, you can see how it could make sense for some early investors.
What seems like a bit more of a head-scratcher is when a brand new clone in the space then raises $90 million just a few months after launching… and hires 400 people. This company, Wimdu, seems to be focusing on Europe. If it can pull that off, that’s something, but this sets off basic alarm bells. It sounds like a company and investors just throwing money after a problem, rather than actually innovating. Historically, just throwing money after a market tends not to work nearly as well as people expect. Airbnb is apparently worried about this particular clone, but I think it may be overreacting. Money isn’t everything, and a company that focuses on providing a better overall experience, rather than worrying about clones, seems like it’ll be better positioned to succeed long term.