Looks like the US is cloning fine British startups starting with Picklive

by Picklive on April 6, 2012

If everybody looked the same, we'd be tired of looking at each other

This week it was reported on VentureBeat that US based Draftday had raised a round of money from the founders of Groupon. Draftday is daily fantasy football for money…it seems remarkably like a Picklive clone to me. (Presumably Groupon will now not get much sympathy for having been cloned many times in Europe).

The tech press is mildly obsessed with painting people that clone tech startups as “not really entrepreneurs” and normally the criticism starts in America where they perceive the European tech scene to have few successes outside of situations where US startups have been cloned by European rivals. For example only yesterday New York based VC Fred Wilson wrote about how he views clones and why he doesn’t invest in them.

I have mixed emotions about apparently being cloned. Obviously it’s not nice, it makes you feel like in future an innovation that is yours (in this case daily fantasy football) might be known to some people as someone else’s innovation. But at the same time I realise that the world is a big place and as Fred points out it’s part of life. There are however a few things that are worth saying about it:

  1. the tech press (the excellent Kernelmag aside) are constantly sniping at clone startups. The European tech scene is normally portrayed as the bad guy, the US tech scene portrayed as the home of innovation. It would be nice if when a UK startup (in this case us at Picklive) innovate 2 years ahead of the US in an area where the US traditionally has the upper hand (fantasy sport and technology) and then someone follows suit in the US, the tech press write something about it. As someone said this week on Twitter “this is an actual story”;
  2. the differences between a clone and an innovation company are so large that they deserve separate VC communities, separate advice, separate support, separate press, separate hiring channels. I’ve called many times for the delineation of the industry so that we don’t have to put up with irrelevant puff aimed at people with such wholly different challenges than us. The truth is Fred doesn’t know whether he’s investing in “the innovator” because opportunities are not clones or innovators (they are not 1s and 0s), there is an enormous spectrum in between. It’s time for the wholesale adoption of my Clone-Disruption continuum as a basis for comparison of tech startups;
  3. it’d be great if every British person played Picklive before daily fantasy football falsely enters the history books as an American innovation.

Photo by bogafrito