Milo Yiannopoulos tries to explain the rise of an unlikely sex symbol. What it is that makes Rocket Internet and European Founders fund supremo Oliver Samwer so attractive?
I can’t abide gossip, as you know, but I did enjoy Mike Butcher’s splendid little leak on TechCrunch Europe a while back, taken from Oliver Samwer’s outbox.
If you didn’t get an erection reading it, there’s something wrong with you. Not least because Samwer isn’t some kook angel investor: he’s one third of European Founders fund, along with his brothers Marc and Alexander, and the powerhouse of rage behind a spectacularly successful Berlin clone factory that bullies US start-ups into acquiring its products unless they want their European launches ruined.
Of the brothers, Oli is unquestionably the best looking, sitting somewhere between Michael Fassbender and Matthias Schweighöfer. He’s also, as most of the European tech community is now aware, prone to stupendously testosterone-fuelled outbursts like the Blitzkrieg email, which has spawned a parody record listened to over 22,000 times.
From: Oliver Samwer
Subject: when is it time for blitzkrieg
Date: October, 2011
[Name], [Name] and the other founders globally in furniture, i need to know from you, when it is time to do the same in furniture, that means when it is time to take 100% of the market, full scale investment attack etc – as see below.
there are only 3 areas in ecommerce to build billion dollar business: amazon, zappos and furniture. the only thing is that the time for the blitzkrieg must be chosen wisely, so each country tells me with blood when it is time. i am ready – anytime!
i give you all the money to win, i give all the trust, but you come back with unmatched success. If i see that you are wasting my money, that you are not german detail oriented, that you are not fast, that you are not aggressive, that you are not data driven, that you are not doing logistics well, upload inventory fast, buying wrong inventory, then i get angry and do like in russia, where no people leading the company now and i lost a ton of money and the founders lost 50% of their equity and no salary for 6 months. we are in the same boat, everyone has to do his mission.
Provide a plan over this weekend that includes all your recommendations, thinking because i can give you the money, the knowhow, the strategy, but i will only do a plan that you 100% believe in and that is signed with blood.
It’s ironic, really, because the Samwer brothers are notoriously publicity-shy: in October 2011, Oli walked out of an interview with TechCrunch for no apparent reason. But they’re not entirely adverse to publicity, perhaps as a result of the PR fall-out after that email went public (Samwer has since apologised for his choice of words), which was even reported in Der Spiegel.
Maybe that’s why my friend Matt Cowan has finally managed to land an interview with Oli for the forthcoming issue of Wired. It’s a great piece, worth the cover price on its own, which finally poses the big question: are the brothers motivated purely by money? Of course not, says Oli. “What galvanises them,” Matt reports, “is winning.” Or, in Oli’s words, “To prove over and over that we’re the best.”
When I shared the above with a female acquaintance who works in banking, she replied swiftly and with one word: “Swoon.” She wasn’t the only one. Just yesterday, I heard a young Israeli PR girl gushing over the Teutonic titan after reading the now-infamous email rant. “What a guy… what a guy,” she kept saying. ”Just imagine what sex with him would be like.”
Based on his email style, I think I can guess: violent, brutal, selfish and unsatisfying. All that talk of crushing the competition and signing investment plans in blood… oh, who am I kidding, I get light-headed just thinking about it. In fact, as the Samwers’ reputation grows, I’ve noticed increasing numbers of women sighing exaggeratedly as their names are brought up – particularly Oli’s.
And it isn’t restricted to PR girls: a young Mädchen working in one of the Samwers’ own start-up portfolio companies, hopelessly in love with the brutality of his regime and his take-no-prisoners approach, emailed me this morning with eight paragraphs of what can only be described as the most uncomfortably awful love poetry I have ever read. The more Oli talks about crushing the enemy, the more, it seems, his female fan base yearns for a taste of the lash.
So what is it about ruthless, psychopathic Germans intent on world domination that makes these ladies go weak at the knees? It’s especially curious since the most ardent fan I could find was a Jew unperturbed by his Third Reich vocabulary. I mean, I’m Jewish (by birth, anyway) and I don’t get it at all.
To answer that question, you could do worse than turn to a little-known genre of cinema that originated in Israel, explained by academics as a quite predictable psychological response to the atrocities committed on the continent in the 1940s. I haven’t the stomach for such material myself, but people who have watched these videos tell me they depict powerful, sadistic men in those uniforms performing humilating sex acts on their charges. Yet it’s the charges who often wield the power in this sexual politic.
Indeed, that’s often the case in sado-masochistic pornography – a reminder, perhaps, that sharp-suited Samwer might have a lot of money and a bad attitude, but it’s ultimately entrepreneurs who have the power to make or break him – and it’s their choice whether or not to play ball with his domineering investment strategy.
Of course, if the internet doesn’t work out for Samwer, he could make a fortune on the fetish circuit. Cult soft-porn films such as Canadian Nazisploitation classic Ilsa: She-Wolf of the SS and its sequels are drawn from the Holocaust porn milieu and from the Stalag literature of the 1950s which sprang up in Israel after lurid details of life in the concentration camps started to emerge at Adolf Eichmann’s trial.
More often than not, such stories, pictures and movies depict camp victims in emotional triumph over the oppressive terror inflicted by their captors. Oli may lack Dyanne Thorne’s blonde bob, but he’s not far off her in looks and personality and one gets the impression he takes a similar Schwarze Witwe approach to prior conquests. (Excuse me while I sit down for a second.)
Yet this, sadly, is where the comparison with Rocket Internet ends, because while the nasty, brutal and short approach to intercourse may serve as a fine metaphor for Samwer’s attitude to even his own start-ups, the man has just raised another colossal amount of money to fund his quest for digital Lebensraum, and there is no plucky upstart in sight with the cojones to take on this alluring autocrat.