28. August 2012–
The portfolio shake-up at the Samwer incubator Rocket Internet doesn't seem to be slowing. After their business in Turkey came to a sudden halt less than two weeks ago, it looks like Dubai is next in line, with the Samwers' Amazon clone in Dubai, Mizado, to be brought under Namshi, previously a regional brand for Rocket's fashion retailer Zalando. At the same time, Jumia, another Amazon clone, has launched in Egypt.
Rocket Internet: New focus on North Africa
Rocket Internet's Amazon clone in Dubai, Mizado, will now run under the roof of their second business in the Emirates, Namshi. The site will now sell both fashion and electronics, thus combining the Amazon and Zappos models used by the two ventures.
"The Middle East is a very attractive market for Rocket Internet, with a proven track record. Currently, we are active with two ventures in the region, Mizado.com and Namshi.com, which are both performing very well," Rocket Internet head of PR Andreas Winiarski told VentureVillage, when asked to comment on the Mizado closing. "To leverage economies of scale, we will focus our e-commerce activities under the stronger brand Namshi.com."
It seems more than likely that there will be job losses as part of the merger – though how many is unclear at this point.
New Amazon clone begins in Egypt
In more upbeat news: Rocket Internet is also launching a new Amazon clone, Jumia, in Egypt. There's a bit of name switching going on here, too – Jumia is currently available in Nigeria, Morocco and Egypt, but in Nigeria at least it comes as a rebranding of Kasuwa, apparently due to local copyright issues.
The recent deal between Rocket Internet and mobile carrier Millicom acts as backdrop to current activity in the Middle East and North Africa. Millicom, which, like Rocket, counts Swedish investment bank AB Kinnevik as a significant shareholder, bought shares in Rocket Internet's Latin American and African holding companies for €340 million (for the first half of both companies). The deal also gives the Samwers' the option of a complete exit from both holding companies, at fair market value, by no later than 2016.
With that in mind, and portfolio shake-ups in the Middle East, it seems the Samwers are doing what they do best: following the money trail.