Imitation may be the sincerest form of flattery, but Rocket Internet tends to flatter a lot. It launched several clones of popular sites, such as Pinspire (inspired by Pinterest), Zalora (Zappos adorer) and now Lazada, the Amazon clone.
Lazada was launched for shoppers in the UAE, Bahrain, Egypt, Kuwait, Oman, Qatar and Saudi Arabia. Its shipping address list doesn’t include Asia as of this writing, but reports say the list includes Indonesia, Thailand, Philippines, Malaysia, Taiwan and Singapore.
Amazon now sports a grey and white color scheme, abandoning its old blue and orange theme currently being used by Lazada. While many Websites “localize” popular sites (such as the Chinese and Indian versions of Pinterest), the founders of Rocket Internet get a lot of flak for their clone factory.
Zappos clone Zalora is a fashion retail site with a local twist; it features creations by Malaysian designer Tom Abang Saufi, and apparel by Ladakh, an Autralian online retailer. Pinterest clone Pinspire sports the same layout and functionality; a five-column community corkboard for women to pin up and share their favorite pictures and interests.
Rocket Internet founders Marc, Alexander and Oliver Samwer are brothers based in Germany, where they built up companies that were eventually acquired by eBay and Groupon. The brothers shun publicity but they love to make money — making profitable investments in Facebook, LinkedIn and Zynga. The brothers sold their online marketplace (Alando) to eBay for US$50 million, their business networking site (cember.net) to Xing for $6.4 million and their discount deals site (CityDeal) to Groupon for $126 million.
Rocket Internet recently went on a hiring spree in Southeast Asia, looking to expand business in Singapore, Philippines, Thailand, Indonesia and Malaysia. Zalora is already making inroads for the online fashion retail scene in Malaysia and Indonesia.
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