Delivery Hero co-founder Fabian Siegel has stepped down, leaving Niklas Östberg as sole CEO of the successful food delivery platform. The company, however, has insisted that the move is not linked to the €58,050 fine given out to Siegel and six other employees of Delivery Hero – which operates as Lieferheld in Germany – for copying menu information from rival Pizza.de back in 2010.
A spokeswoman said the timing was an “unfortunate coincidence,” and Lukasz Gadowski, chairman of the Delivery Hero board, said the decision was taken in order to “consolidate the leadership under one person.”
Delivery Hero has grown to become one of Berlin’s biggest startup success stories, having notched up 30,000 participating restaurants in 12 markets worldwide since its launch in 2010. It recently merged with Russian food ordering service Foodik after securing controlling stakes in Lieferheld and UK site HungryHouse last February.
With additional websites in Australia, Mexico, the Czech Republic, Switzerland, China and South Korea, Delivery Hero has become one of the world’s biggest food ordering companies. That in turn has attracted plenty of VC interest, with a €40 million round closed in August.
But all has not been rosy at the Berlin-based company in recent weeks, with Siegel attracting some flak before and after Christmas for the Pizza.de issue.
A spokesman for the Berliner Staatsanwaltschaft (Berlin Prosecutor’s Office) told the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung on Monday: “Since there has been an offense, a penalty has been issued.” According to the spokesman, the seven people working for Lieferheld at the time of the incident, in September and October 2010, used software to take the addresses, fax and phone numbers of 990 delivery services from the Pizza.de database without consent, storing it and subsequently making it available to the public. For privacy reasons, the seven individuals involved were not officially identified.
A Lieferheld spokeswoman confirmed the punishment to the FAZ and said that while the company does not believe the measures taken were proportionate, it had accepted it so that the issue would be put to rest.
Fabian Siegel also mentioned the incident in a blog post marking his departure from Delivery Hero after two years. He wrote: “In the first weeks we made a mistake of typing menu data from a competitors website – which was stupid as the effort was the same as typing from original menues (sic).”
But he claimed the practice was ended swiftly and the final number of copied menus to make it to the launch was small, with the ensuing litigation lasting two years.
He also praised the company’s achievements, including raising around $100 million in funding and taking the decision to go global.
His departures leaves Delivery Hero in experienced hands in the shape of Niklas Östberg who has been involved in startups since the late 1990s and co-founded Pizza.nu, which later became OnlinePizza.se, before setting up Delivery Hero with the help of Team Europe. The company now boasts 450 employees and its other investors include Kite Ventures, ru-Net, Tengelmann Ventures, Holtzbrinck Ventures, Point Nine Capital and Kreos Capital.