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Innovation Myths and the Unsexy Truths About Breakthroughs

By Mark Milian - 2014-04-01T16:15:07Z

Photograph by Stanislav Krasilnikov/ITAR-TASS via ZUMA Press

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Cloning Doesn't Count

Pavel Durov is often called the Mark Zuckerberg of Russia because he created VKontakte, the country's largest social network that happens to look a lot like Facebook. Durov isn't ashamed of what some perceive as cloning.

"The biggest myth about innovation is the idea that you can't copy great features of existing products," Durov says. "One can successfully innovate just by improving the tiniest details of a popular product or by combining well-known existing products."

Durov says the bad rap given to clones could be driven by big companies trying to protect their core businesses from startups. Tech executives make it a habit of dismissing copycats publicly and through the courts, he says.

"Innovation is the constant work of trying to improve things, make them easier, faster, friendlier," Durov says. "The small quantitative improvements you make by this work eventually result in qualitative changes visible for everybody."

Related: DARPA's Dollars at Work