Arabic Twitter Competitor WatWet Pulls the Plug

1 Jul, 2011

3 years old Jordan based Arabic microblogging platform Watwet has closed down, in a massage posted on the site the site admins says that they are pulling the plug on WATWET and All your information on WATWET will be deleted permanently. However they are offering microblogging service to organizations.

Why did WatWet fail and close? I wrote a detailed analysis back in July 2009 saying that WatWet has a very hard chance to match with Twitter even though it had more members at the time.
In short cloning international site into Arabic is a bad idea for startups. However it works in some markets like group buying where GoNabit copied groupon and ended being sold to LivingSocial as they had the local advantage that LivingSocial did not have.

Saying that cloning international startups is bad idea for Arab entrepreneurs, the question is why local social networks in markets such as Russia and China are doing better than facebook while no single Arabic social network has made it?

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  1. لنكو  |  July 1st, 2011 at 5:07 PM #

    :(

  2. Mazen Arafat  |  July 19th, 2011 at 1:05 PM #

    You turned out to be right, Gaith. I’ve posted some thoughts on blog.tootcorp.com, where next time I will also give my 2 cents on the question you pose at the end.
    Cloning is a very complex business, and requires some pretty hard-nosed understanding of the local as well as global context. Anyway, we clearly did pretty well on the technical side of the execution, but failed with the requisite “soft skills” nor funding to morph it to the new watwet that we’d been thinking about for nearly 18 months. There are also some interesting issues around the original business model of Twitter that we definitely wanted to avoid – viz. the cost of SMS – which led us to focus much too much energy on partnerships with operators rather than focusing on the user and listening to early adopters when they started leaving watwet for twitter.
    We live and learn!

  3. Frank  |  July 20th, 2011 at 1:03 AM #

    definitely arabs should stop copycat other ideas like twitter and they should come up with their own idea, watwet people copycat twitter and they also copied youtube,,, is this what u call innovation.

    you need to be innovative rather than copycat.

    and I don’t think it is right to say competitor to twitter,no body know what is watwe with all respect, but we have to live in the real world not only in dreams.

  4. Frank  |  July 20th, 2011 at 1:04 AM #

    the youtube copycat is ikbis.. that is the innovation and the creativity.

  5. Mazen Arafat  |  July 26th, 2011 at 1:41 PM #

    Frank, you are right that cloning blindly is not a strategy, and certainly not a sexy one. I am going to post more on cloning, because I think it is a lot more fascinating subject than “Arabs should do this or that”. Now, with respect to Watwet, it was less that we pursued a strategy saying “let’s copy Twitter” than saying (mistakenly, in hindsight) “there may be some localised barriers that we can exploit to create a niche”. Clearly, the issue was that we didn’t pivot fast enough when our initial assessment of local barriers was proven wrong, and our delay was for reasons mentioned above and at blog.tootcorp.com.

    As for Ikbis, we have been making an effort to completely distinguish ourselves from YouTube. It has been taking more time than we want, and I appreciate your frustration. But as you will see, Ikbis has already changed quite dramatically, and you should start seeing a stronger differentiation from YT. The mantra for 3 years at Ikbis has been “The YouTube of the Middle East is YouTube” but that does not mean there is no space for multiple Arab online video services.

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