Empty Bus Factor

The Bus Factor is a well known phrase that refers to how much risk a team has if a single person is hit by a bus (or disappears for some other reason).

It's often used as a reminder to not rely so heavily on one party, and it's good advice.

I'd like to introduce you to the Empty Bus Factor.

Managers deciding which product to buy often focus on the company behind the product. In corporate environments, CTOs will happily pay large licensing fees to Microsoft or Google for their products, because they'll be around forever - right?


There used to be a website dedicated to showing popular products that were killed: Product Graveyard. Coincidentally, that website has also been killed now... Anyway, if we look at an archived copy of it, even on the front page we can see big companies have multiple well-known products they killed off (up to 2018):

  • Adobe
    • Flash Player
    • Photoshop Touch
  • Apple
    • Aperture
  • Google
    • Orkut
    • Picasa
    • Reader
    • Spaces
    • Wave
  • Microsoft
    • Lync
    • Windows Live Messenger
    • Zune Software

If a company, even a big one like Microsoft or Google, decides a product is not profitable they will kill it. If the bus you're on is too empty, the driver might just drive it off a cliff to cut their losses. So if the bus you're on is empty, you should pick another route!