Clone factory Rocket finally comes clean

As we found back in April, when we revealed the extent of German clone factory Rocket Internet’s global empire, researching the company’s various outfits was hard work. Rocket itself was less than forthcoming, and compiling a comprehensive list meant a lot of clue-following and the painstaking trawling of URL databases.
But now the Samwer Brothers have taken all the fun out of such hunts. A revamp of the Rocket website (and logo) has just gone live, openly and helpfully displaying the full roster of their 59 companies, and listing more than 40 countries in which they operate. They’re even in Burma.
Even considering that many of the firms are very similar, that’s a huge jump in names, compared to the 38 we were able to identify in April. It’s also a significant drop in countries, although that may be a matter of where you count — for example, several countries where the Airbnb clone Wimdu operates are not on Rocket’s list.
Rocket’s rapid expansion comes as no surprise, for two reasons. Firstly, the copycat incubator’s modus operandi is to establish a base in a country, then keep using it to roll out new business ‘ideas’. Secondly, Rocket is pulling in investment like there’s no tomorrow. Even the relatively staid likes of Deutsche Telekom are sending money the Samwers’ way.
Speaking of investors, the new site confirms Kinnevik as Rocket’s BFF and neatly sets out 13 of the company’s “selected exits”. It also lists an astounding 28 offices around the world. And, if you’ve been looking for a mugshot gallery of all the MBAs Rocket puts in charge of its operations, eat your heart out.
From a journalist’s perspective, kudos to Rocket for doing this. But what does it mean?
The Samwers seem to be doing two things here. Firstly, they’re showing off — and why not, when you have a portfolio like that? Secondly, they’re rebranding themselves, maybe trying to move on from their frankly tarnished image. Notice how the new site is all in English. Unless I’m missing something, there isn’t even an option to read it in German.
This is Rocket showing how far it’s come and how global it is, perhaps even how powerful it is. But for which audience? Are we getting nearer to that inevitable U.S. push? It’s hard not to get the feeling that something big is in the works.