In the demonstration room of the online furniture retailer Home24, in a backyard in Berlin Prenzlauer Berg, there is a snack vending machine from the Hellofresh cooker box.

It is brightly lit but empty.

Normally, says company boss Marc Appelhoff, the vending machine holds sandwiches and plate dishes.

But because of the corona pandemic, Hellofresh is currently not delivering.

"And for sustainability reasons," says the boss, kneeling down and fiddling with the machine cable, "we can turn it off too."

He pulls the plug.

This article comes from the "WirtschaftsWoche".

Just like Rocket Internet.

Home24 and Hellofresh are company creations by the start-up forge of Oliver, Marc and Alexander Samwer.

And Rocket has significantly reduced its stake in both public companies.

The incubator still holds around eight percent of Home24.

And Rocket sold its stake in Hellofresh, which had already shrunk to 29 percent of the shares, in May 2019 for 350 million euros.

In the meantime, however, the signs are pointing to retreat at Rocket Internet itself.

The company will be completely owned by its founders almost six years after the IPO.

The share price has halved during this time;

the vision of a European champion, of a kind of meta-platform company, has vanished into thin air.

Of the 20 companies remaining in the Rocket portfolio, the household help broker Helpling is still known to a wider audience.

Even experts have hardly ever heard of the real estate broker Bluenest based in Singapore, the logistics company Everstox or the coffee chain Flash Coffee.

In short: the rocket lacks fuel.

The balance sheet for companies that Rocket Internet has listed on the stock exchange in recent years seems to be significantly better.

The fashion mail order company Zalando and the food supplier Delivery Hero are benefiting from the corona crisis: The price increases with the demand from online consumers.

An indication that the old formula for success of the platform capitalists is still right: aggressive growth, rapid internationalization, the main thing is turnover - and only much later also profit?

May be.

But it can't be either.

As always with these stories, there is a lot of imagination involved.

And it easily overshoots the target.

Violently up and down

Home24, for example.

The company went public two years ago, the share cost 30 euros.

A year later it was only worth a tenth;

since then the rate has increased fivefold.

A roller coaster ride is nothing against it.

Chef Appelhoff takes a seat at an oak table from his range.

A few days ago he published the figures for the first half of the year;

For the first time, an operational profit is posted over a period of twelve months.

The bottom line is that the figures remain in the red, but: "We have proven that we have lost almost no money for four quarters in a row, despite very high investments," says Appelhoff.

Of course, Home24 benefited from the fact that furniture stores had to close temporarily in the wake of the corona crisis.

That many people spent a lot of time at home and bought new furniture.

But "online demand remained high even after the furniture stores were reopened," enthuses Appelhoff, and: "We have a sustainably scalable business."

That is why Home24 will be sustainably profitable "in the not too distant future".

If you take Rocket foreman Oliver Samwer at his word, Home24 should have been ready by last year at the latest.

Samwer once said that an online trading company would have to make a profit after seven to ten years.

And Home24 was founded in 2009.