Ralf Dommermuth started 1&1 in 1988 as a marketing company for hard- and software and service solutions for retail users in the expanding German multimedia market. Later, the company managed customer hotlines for various firms including IBM, and also won new customers for Telekom’s BTX system, as well as distributing Telekom’s ISDN lines to residential users. As a result, 1&1 rapidly developed into a leading provider of multimedia solutions to private households. Five years after start-up, the firm was posting sales of €40 million.
A group of investors acquired a minority stake in 1995 with Halder holding a 5% share. By joining forces with professional investors the firm also planned to work towards a stock market flotation.
With a sound footing at the start and an early strategic realignment the company achieved rapid growth as the internet boom gathered pace. 1998 saw the firm’s successful IPO on the New Market, providing Halder with the expected exit route. After the flotation, the company was renamed United Internet AG.