Software scrap

Bumpy Ride for Bus Firms

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    Flixbus has big plans for its newly-merged business, but court and criminal charges might get in the way.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • The two largest long-distance bus operators, Flixbus and MeinFernbus, merged in January 2015.
    • Almost 20 million passengers traveled by long-distance bus last year.
    • The Hamburg-based firm Hreos developed the software for Flixbus, before the operator cancelled all contracts.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Earlier this month, colorful buses parked in front of the Tempodrom at Potsdamer Platz in Berlin. Five bright young entrepreneurs posed out front with big travel plans.

On January 9, they announced the merger of Germany’s two largest long-distance bus operators, Flixbus and Meinfernbus. They hoped to put a thousand vehicles on the roads and carry 20 million people throughout Germany – a great green transportation giant set to capture half the market.

“We’re up for taking on Europe,” said Flixbus founder Jochen Engert at the time.

But behind the ambitious talk is a raging controversy. The cause is a computer program that runs Flixbus’ online platform travelers use to buy bus tickets.

The software was developed by the Hamburg company Hreos, but Flixbus cancelled their partnership. A hacker with a Hreos IP address then attacked and damaged Flixbus’ system which later collapsed.

The question is now who owns the rights to the software Hreos developed for the bus company?

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