Techcrunch refers to StudiVZ and to XING (OpenBC). With StudiVZ they are right but not with Xing. Lets say it this way: every webservice based on the concept of six-degrees and the wonderful implementation by Friendster should be called a copycat (even that is not so true, because Ryze and other websites had started before Friendster but never catched that popularity to serve as a prototype for many modern social networks). So LinkedIn, MySpace and Bebo are copycats too. What matters is not the concept itself, what matters is the autonomy of the service. Xing is absolutely different from LinkedIn by his functional shape or even the mother of all social networks Friendster or any other social network. So, where is the innovation? I tend to say, that basic concepts are much more interesting than the refining process. It bears much more chances but risks too (bleeding edged to be accepted by the market). Looking at it from the more business oriented point of view, the refinement of a raw concept is a much better mix between risk and chance. Since the sharing of concepts and success stories have so much pace now, its just a matter of weeks until the first copycats are developed in other markets as seen with Twitter. Most times the copycat with the best implementation and the best marketing takes it all and the second and third are losing everything. Therefore? Its ok to copy, but you have to be very fast and very smart to win this race. If you did everything right, you will be successful and nobody asks for the innovation factor:)
Techcrunch: Nonetheless, the country’s business angels and media conglomerates (Holtzbrinck Group, Burda, Axel Springer) are eager to invest with rapid-fire pace at the moment but the majority of German internet users have yet to be convinced that there is a land beyond eBay, Google, Wikipedia and some online news sites.