German Internet entrepreneurs, the Samwer Brothers, have become the latest new shareholders in Facebook, according to a Reuters story that cites one of the brothers, Alexander Samwer.
Samwer said the brothers have taken an undisclosed stake in the company and that they’ll be Facebook’s strategic partners in Europe.
This is notable because the brothers previously bankrolled StudiVZ, the Facebook in Germany, in 2005, shortly after Facebook became a major success. StudiVZ was sold last year to Georg von Holtzbrinck GmbH — a German publishing group that had previously invested in the company. The brothers have also earned a reputation of backing rip-offs of successful U.S. companies. One of their companies, Frazr, was an almost an exact duplicate of Twitter, for example, another was Hitflip.de, a clone of Peerflix.
But the relationship with Facebook is apparently warming up, and we’re wondering if this heralds a deeper partnership, or even merger between Facebook and StudiVZ, one of the largest college-based networks in Europe, popular mainly in Germany, Austria, Switzerland and reporting more than four million members mid-way through last year.
The brothers’ stake in Facebook is likely quite small. Microsoft got a mere 1.6 percent of Facebook, in return for its $240 million investment. The Samwer Brothers are typically angel or early-stage investors in companies, and invest nowhere near that amount in their deals.