Pinspire is, after all, the latest venture of Germany's Samwer brothers, who have been developing copycats of popular sites and selling them off since 1999, when they sold Alando to eBay for $50 million. More recently, they started and sold GroupOn clone CityDeal to GroupOn and Zynga clone Plinga to Zynga.
We've reached out to Alexander, Marc and Oliver for comment, but they are publicity shy (last fall Oliver agreed to an interview with TechCrunch, then walked out). We're also trying to see if Pinterest has a comment on the startup or any interest in buying it. We'll update if we hear back from them.
One of the keys to the success of Rocket Internet, the Berlin-based incubator the brothers founded, has been identifying Web sites that have taken off in the U.S. but have yet to globalize and find a strong, international following. The brothers launched the clone as a beta in November, and if history is an indicator, will hold it just long enough to develop a loyal, overseas following.
Already valued at more than $200 million, Pinterest remains in invite only mode, which is one of the ways Pinspire is trying to one-up its look-alike competition. And Pinspire, for its part, has a relatively loyal following in its own right, with more than 11,500 fans of its Facebook page.