HomeGermany-StartupsThree of the most controversial founders from Germany

Three of the most controversial founders from Germany

Let me introduce you to the three of the most controversial internet founders from Germany. Probably you’ve already heard of one or all three of them, but we thought it might be entertaining to provide you with a short list and intro.

The interesting thing is, that the following three German entrepreneurs are not only some of the most controversial, but also some of the most successful founders on a global scale. And here they are:

Fabian-ThylmannFabian Thylmann is the owner of some of the world’s most heavily used porn websites (YouPorn, PornHub, MyDirtyHobby, Brazzers, Tranny Surprise, etc.). Combined, his sites generate over 16 billion hits per month and are among the most popular websites on the planet. Fabian Thylmann’s company MindGeek (formerly Manwin) has its headquarters in Luxembourg and offices in Dublin, Hamburg, London, Los Angeles, Nicosia and Montreal. Born and raised in Germany, Thylmann today lives in Belgium. In December 2012, he was extradited to Germany on suspicion of tax evasion on the huge annual profits his company allegedly makes. Thylmann did not contest the extradition order and spent several days in jail. On the 21 December, Thylmann was released on bail, for a sum in the range of low double-digit millions.

If you’d like to learn more about the German ‘King of Porn’, check out the videos of his time on stage during the internext expo 2012 Las Vegas. This is probably the only video material you can find of him on the internet.

Oliver-SamwerOliver Samwer is a German internet entrepreneur who – together with his brothers Marc and Alexander – founded Alando, Jamba!, as well as many other successful companies. Through Rocket Internet, an international online venture builder headquartered in Berlin, Oliver Samwer and his team are starting one clone company after another. They’ve already built clones of Airbnb (Wimdu), Fab (Bamarang), Zappos (Zalando), BirchBox (GlossyBox), Wrapp (DropGifts) and many more. The main criticism of Oliver Samwer and his team is, that he only copies successful business models and sometimes even the look and feel of the original websites/apps. Due to Oliver Samwer’s track record, and because of the fact that the proof of concept for each of Rocket’s clone companies has already been achieved, Oliver Samwer has been able to raise more capital than many other German internet entrepreneurs that came before him.

But his highly criticised lack of innovation is not the only thing that has made him one of the most controversial German founders out there. Oliver Samwer is known (and has also described himself in the past) as “the most aggressive guy on internet”. In a leaked e-mail to his ‘colleagues’ at a Rocket Internet backed startup, he once even used warlike vocabulary, like ”…the time for the blitzkrieg must be chosen wisely, so each country tells me with blood when it is time. i am ready – anytime!“.


Kim Dotcom, born and raised in Germany under the name of Kim Schmitz, is also known as Kimble or Kim Tim Jim Vestor. He is the founder of the file storage website Megaupload, which was shut down by the United States Department of Justice, as well as Megaupload’s successor site, Mega. Kim Dotcom currently ‘lives’ in New Zealand. In January 2012, the New Zealand Police placed him in custody in response to US charges of criminal copyright infringement related to Megaupload. He was accused of costing the entertainment industry $500 million through pirated content uploaded to his file-sharing site, which had 150 million registered users. Kim Dotcom has denied the charges, and is fighting the attempt to extradite him to the United States. Despite legal action still pending over Megaupload, Kim launched a new project named “Mega” in January 2013, and opened to the public exactly one year after Megaupload was shut down.

In the past, Kim Dotcom has been convicted of several crimes; he received a suspended prison sentence in 1994 for computer fraud and data espionage, and another suspended prison sentence in 2003 for insider trading and embezzlement.

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Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr
Thomas Ohr is the "Editor in Chief" of EU-Startups.com and started the blog in October 2010. He is excited about Europe's future, passionate about new business ideas and lives in Barcelona (Spain).


  1. Mr. Oliver Samwer is a Co-Founder and Partner at Global Founders Capital. Mr. Samwer is a Managing Director at European Founders Fund Management GmbH. He is an internet entrepreneur, having built and exited numerous businesses such as Jamster and Citydeal, and supported European fashion giant Zalando. Mr. Samwer is a Co-Founder at Rocket Internet GmbH. He served as the Chief Executive Officer at Jamba! AG, which he co-founded in 2000. Previously, Mr. Samwer was a Managing … Director at eBay, responsible for Germany, Switzerland, and Austria. In January 1999, Mr. Samwer co-founded Alando.de. In 1999, he worked in strategic planning with Inktomi Corporation. He also served as Vice-Chairman of the Supervisory Board of MyHammer Holding AG and Member of the Supervisory Board since December 2007. Mr. Samwer serves as a Member of the Advisory Board of Buy Vip S.L. He also served as Director of Fox Mobile Distribution GmbH and Board Observer of MFG.com Inc. Mr. Samwer served as an Independent Director at INTAC International Inc. from March 3, 2004 to June 8, 2004. In 1998, he initiated and conducted a study on how to start, grow, and build a successful company interviewing 100 high technology startups in Silicon Valley and Massachusetts. While at university, Mr. Samwer was a Co-Author of a publication of the success factors of over 50 startups in Silicon Valley. In 2004, he was selected as one of the Young Global Leaders by the World Economic Forum in Davos and Forbes has recently recognized him and his brothers among the top 12 global entrepreneurs to watch. During his studies, Mr. Samwer was a Fellow of Deutsche Studienstiftung. Mr. Samwer holds a Business degree from WHU.

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