Pizza wars: Lieferheld cleared of computer sabotage allegations

Fabian Segel
Fabian Segel

Fabian Segel

Delivery Hero’s German platform Lieferheld is now clear of allegations of computer sabotage against competitor Lieferando, closing off a saga that hit headlines in April with a police visit to Lieferheld’s headquarters in Berlin.

width="300"Lieferando, one of a number of players alongside Lieferheld, Pizza.de and Lieferservice.de in the fiercely competitive German online food delivery market, reported repeat denial of service (DDoS) attacks on its website from unknown sources and released a statement to media implicating Lieferheld.

Lieferheld CEO Fabian Segel (pictured above) hotly denied the allegations, with Lieferando co-founder Jörg Gerbig later that week saying the complaints were made against an unknown force rather than Lieferheld in particular.

Web crawling confusion

Part of the clash might have been a misunderstanding over Lieferheld’s use of web crawlers (automatic programmes) to check if competitors’ claims about affiliated restaurants are correct. That would explain why a Lieferheld-affiliated server apparently showed up in Lieferando’s internal investigation, and why Lieferando initially blamed Lieferheld for their server issues.

“Lieferheld uses crawlers to verify advertising claims made by Lieferando regarding the number of partners. Such standard crawlers are also used by competitors on the site of Lieferheld, they are very similar to those used by Google,” a Lieferheld spokesperson told VentureVillage in April.

“Such a crash does not happen with the ‘usual’ crawling by Lieferheld,” Gerbig said at the time.

Case closed – Lieferheld off the hook

Now, according to a press release on Lieferheld’s website, the Berlin public prosector has thrown out the case. “This is what we expected from the beginning,” Lieferheld co-CEO Fabian Siegel wrote. “We are glad… these absurd allegations are off the table.”

Gerbig was not immediately available for comment today.

Delivery Hero, the parent group behind Lieferheld, is active in Germany, the UK, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Austria, Switzerland, Russia, Mexico, Korea and Australia – spanning over 19,000 partner restaurants. The group is backed by Berlin-based company builder Team Europe (a VentureVillage shareholder) and revealed in May that it grew 84 per cent in Q1 2012 and is on target for over €250 million revenue this year.

Lieferando is part of the “yourdelivery” Group, which reports over 8,800 delivery partners across Germany, Austria, Switzerland, France and Poland. Australian private equity group Macquarie recently acquired a 27 per cent stake in Lieferando in exchange for €16 million of fresh funding – making the Aussie group Lieferando’s largest shareholding investor.

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