In the gentle, new world of ring tones

The Jamba ringtone portal! Celebrates success, but now employees realize they don’t get much out of it

Jamba! is pure New Economy and the Samwer brothers are their "Dream Team" (And if they have not died, they are still founding today). The synthesis of old money and new ideas worked so far like the donkey sneezing ducats. The takeover of the ringtone portal Jamba! by the American telecom and Internet services company VeriSign put 273 million US dollars into the pockets of its owners. But now a well-known side effect of economic success is emerging: The employees notice that they do not get much out of it. And former employees who think they’ve been treated badly tend to blab from the near box.

The Kolner brother, Alexander, Oliver and Marc Samwer founded 1999 together with three friends in Berlin Kreuzberg the company Alando, among other things with support by Hubert Burda. Internet users could buy or auction products online. The idea of an online auction house was copied from Ebay and adapted to German conditions.

100 days after its foundation, Alando was sold to E-Bay. The Samwer brothers are said to have earned almost nine million euros at the time. On 18. August 2000 Jamba was! was launched. The company quickly emerged as Europe’s leading provider of services and "Content" for cell phones. Jamba! is today a joint venture between debitel, MediaMarkt. We do not disclose sales, estimated revenue at the end of 2004: 70 million euros.

Jamba! sells sounds, logos and games to kids who use cell phones as a status symbol. Success is accompanied by the classic corporate identity of the new economy: flat hierarchies, don’t trust anyone over three figures, everything is hip and easy and somehow looks like the Internet. There is a ring for every mood in life. And if you want to find a partner, you can go virtually to Jamba’s dating portal iLove.

You can swarm out virtually to almost all European countries, and GEMA’s cash register is ringing. Jamba and Media Online have just! and Media Online have just launched a music portal with over 220.000 titles. Ring tones are the trendsetters of the music scene: The turnover is higher than with single CDs. Multiplayer games for cell phones and eBook readers were already added to the range last year. The target group is between 14 and 29, so to the delight of advertisers to describe exactly, and wants to spend money. And if the pocket money is not enough or a minor has accidentally not ordered a ringtone subscription in time, mommy and daddy have to step in.

Milan Pawlik can the PR department of Jamba! show them that they are competent and satisfied employees at all times. He is with 32 years for the clientele already stone old. The trained media designer fits with his hobby "electronic music" exactly into the profile. Today he ensures the quality of ring tones, communicates with composers and takes care of the charts as a professional youth. Hajducci is the hottest among kids right now. The companies send the desired file, the specialists at Jamba! adapt them to the countless cell phone models and convert the music quote into the right format. On many cell phones Jamba!-Ring tones preinstalled. Only rarely are there problems with copyright: Groenemeyer, for example, is stubborn and absolutely does not want to be dubbed by cell phone.

Sometimes also the clients cause problems. You have to deal with them pragmatically, Birgit M. (name changed), a former employee at Jamba!, who have been dismissed shortly before the end of their probationary period:

The kids who download ring tones naturally don’t look at the fine print. Then suddenly have a subscription. And the parents complain. I advised them on the phone, for example, on how to block certain services, such as downloading pictures. In our coaching, it was a hit, but it should be pointed out only when the parents are really close to crying.

Those who do not fit into the brave new world of ringtone or rebel better go

The freelance composers of the cell phone doodle have to dress warmly in negotiations with Jamba! warm up. In a letter by Oliver Samwer (available to Telepolis), it is noted that Jamba! be a "very pragmatic company":

Before making a contract …contract, we want to see if there is any business in it.

Only when the products arrive, you can talk about content "content" and copyrights. One can guess who bears which entrepreneurial risk here. Working conditions have become harder and are no longer different from the old economy.

Birgit M. Also very critical of working conditions:

When we were taken over by VeriSign, we hoped that we would get something like flexible working hours or some other arrangement. According to the employment contract we had to work 40 hours a week. In total we sometimes ended up with 45 hours. But overtime is not paid.

Telepolis has an employment contract from Jamba! available at. The gross salary is 1400 Euro, which "any overtime and extra work is also compensated."

At Jamba! According to several former employees, they sometimes work 45 hours a week, 9.5 hours a day including breaks. First there is a six-month contract. Work on a trial basis. If you fall ill within the first 30 days, you’re out of luck – the days you miss are deducted from your pay.

Behind the casual tone of the sneaker managers, behind the cool ambience and the club atmosphere, the old economy comes to the fore in conflicts with the staff – with all the risks and side effects for those who have no power. Those who don’t fit into the brave new world of ring tones or rebel are better off leaving. Reports of inconsistencies in working hours, performance prere and success rates are making the rounds.

The old economy for employees is about to hit the tower

At the base of Jamba! rumbles. Employees complain about poor pay and lack of overtime compensation. Stefan M. (name changed), ex-employee of the Jamba!-customer service, speaks of the principle of "Hire and fire". Northern employees don’t fit into the ambience of the success story. Jamba!-Press spokesman Tilo Bonow, 24, sees everything in rosy colors. "If you don’t like it here, you can leave." Sayings that have always been part of the guiding culture of Internet business. One is a rough family. Little room for old-fashioned ideas like: employees have rights too.

I know many people my age, under 25, who have a perfect education, but no chance because of lack of experience. They apply naturally and are happy when they get a job. They then hope that they will be hired after the probationary period. When I started at Jamba! I sent out over 100 applications and only got rejections. I was overqualified, they often said. But at some point you just switch off and wonder what’s in it for you if you’re also burdening your private life with it. We were afraid for our jobs.

Birgit M

In comparison with a U.S. company from the mid-sized industry, where the ex-employee had learned, Jamba scored well! badly:

In my old company they stuck together, celebrated company parties and tried to bring colleagues together privately as well. When I compare that with Jamba! and had the choice: I would go back. With Jamba! I had more the feeling: I have to do the work, and if it doesn’t go well, I’ll get a slap on the wrist.

Now the Jamba!-bosses are experiencing an unfamiliar feeling: the old economy for employees is just around the corner. The union connex-av distributed leaflets in front of the factories in the "factory gates". They found a ready market: "Now establish a works council!" hieve it there. "A works council leads to a democratization of the company. The committee takes up the interests of the employees and brings them into the planning of the management." Jamba!-Press spokesman Tilo Bonow takes a relaxed view of the ie. "We could not prevent this."

Birgit M. has her doubts. To this day she does not know why she was dismissed. At a team meeting shortly before she was fired, a colleague raised the ie of the works council. The astonishment was rough – but almost all had been for it:

A month earlier, during a break, I said it was an absurdity that such a rough company did not have a works council. Some have gone for it. I have just somehow started the ball rolling.

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