Rocket Internet is characterized more by its opportunism than by its desire to change the world


One of Germany’s flagship high-tech companies, which has funded and placed nearly 200 start-ups into orbit, has decided to quit the stock market. An event that shows the limits of the strategies of European firms in the sector, analyzes Philippe Escande, economist editorialist at “Monde”?

Internet stocks are tasting bitter right now on the Frankfurt Stock Exchange. After the collapse of Wirecard , star of online payment disintegrated by a monumental fraud scandal, it is another historical star of German high-tech who is leaving the markets by the back door. On 1 st September, the creator of the Rocket Internet startups announced its intention to exit the Exchange. This Thursday, September 24, the shareholders voted in a general meeting to withdraw from the market.


The bitterness is all the greater as the departure is not very elegant for its most patient shareholders. Those who bought the shares when the company went public in 2014, believing it to be a long-term investment in technology, lost half of their stake. Bought 42 euros, the action is resumed today for 18. Inglorious for a company that dreams of European Amazon and while online commerce, its specialty, is making sparks all over the world, thanks to the health crisis.

The copier copied
As often, when a company chooses to withdraw from the Stock Exchange, it justifies it by the concern of the long term, incompatible with the volatility of the market. He sees above all that in the exceptional career of this company founded in 2007, the only shareholders who have enriched themselves are the three founders, the brothers Marc, Oliver and Alexander Samwer, now billionaires. And this continues since, instead of bringing in a new partner to exit the rating, their company will compensate minority shareholders with its own cash, at a price judged by analysts to be well below the sum of the assets.

Rocket Internet, which has funded and placed nearly 200 start-ups in orbit, is characterized more by its opportunism than by its desire to change the world. The business model is mostly to create copies of a successful American model. His greatest success, the shoe dealer Zalando, was the copy of the Californian Zappos. But since the copier is easily copied in turn, you have to go fast and sell quickly.

Thus, its food delivery company Foodora , created in 2014, grew at lightning speed before being sold a year later to Delivery Hero, the German leader, which itself sold its activities. European to Dutch Takeway. Not very long term, but profitable. It is not, however, with this kind of strategy that Europe will stick to the American or Chinese Internet champions. And investors are starting to notice it.

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