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20 Rocket staff leave to start a new incubator with high double-digit million from the Otto group Written by Marguerite Imbert on 17. January 2012

Rocket Internet

The exodus from Rocket Internet continues. And it’s gaining funding.
Rocket Internet
Today VentureVillage confirmed that Uwe Horstmann (former MD of Rocket Internet), Christian Weiss (founding CEO Rocket Internet), and Thies Sander (former CEO of TopTarif) are beginning a new incubator, for now known as the Oryx Project. An estimated 20 members from Rocket’s core staff have left Rocket to join them, the majority of which come from Rocket’s prized IT department. Oliver Samwer confirms 18 disposals.
Florian Heinemann, another co-founder of Rocket, will follow soon.
In an exclusive interview with VentureVillage, Uwe Horstmann confirms that the group has been working on the project since January 1st. “We brought along only the best talent,” says Horstmann of the Rocket recruits, “It was important to Christian, Theis and I that we have a team of people we’ve worked with in the past.”
While it is likely that Oryx will compete with Rocket in several markets, it intends to take a different internal approach to incubation. “We’re different from Rocket in that we’ll put a higher amount emphasis on quality and technical sophistication,” Horstmann says, “Not just marketing battles. We want to approach projects with more innovation and move away from the copycat model.”
It is reported that a large number of the new staff left Rocket due to problems with the Samwers’ notorious management style. Confidence in the project and team already stirs.
Funding for the incubator comes from Otto Group and is reportedly in the high double-digit million amount. “We’ve been working on the project since January 1st,” says Horstmann, “We’re now building up the structure and capital to be able to put out companies that can first succeed in Germany and then scale elsewhere.”
“We wouldn’t want to put that skill to waste,” he adds. As of 11:20am today, Horstmann has still not heard from Rocket Internet.
Image credit: Flickr user Paul Mannix