About subshell

subshell is a flexible, tight-knit software company founded in 1999 with the goal of providing useful solutions to a variety of media organizations.

About subshell

In the year 2007 with the launch of the high end CMS Sophora, subshell GmbH Hamburg, Germany, evolved from a known software service provider for media companies to an innovative software product developer, specializing in Content Management Systems.

The premiere users of the new software were the German broadcaster NDR with their extensive on-line content and programming and the ARD, a joint consortium of Germany's regional public-service broadcasters, with www.tagesschau.de. Additional multimedia and TV organizations followed.

Thanks to its flexibility and multiple uses for publications of all types, as well as an updated user-friendly approach, Sophora became the answer for all forms of modern media companies.

In the forefront of subshell is product development, to further evolve, update and develop Sophora. This of course includes all types of support for the CMS, such as Professional Services, Training and Consulting. The implementation and individualization of the software can either be performed by subshell, the internal IT department of the client or it can instead become the responsibility of one of many of subshell’s approved technology partners.

Teamwork and a transparent development process are the cornerstone of Sophora’s success. subshell’s innovative process encourages sharing information on how to best solve problems and challenges. Via the constant exchange of knowledge and an open working style, subshell is able to offer technology solutions of the highest quality.

subshell’s long-term corporate goal is to continue in this vein, with a focus on innovative development while continuing to support a flexible, dynamic working environment where software development is actually fun.


Clients include most of Germany’s public broadcasters and other private companies, such as:

  • Bayerischer Rundfunk
  • Bundeszentrale für politische Bildung
  • Das Erste
  • Hessischer Rundfunk
  • MDR
  • NDR
  • Radio Bremen
  • Saarländischer Rundfunk
  • SWR
  • tagesschau.de
  • Universal Music Germany
  • WDR


The team structure and development process at subshell is organized according to the well-known Scrum developmental framework. This organizational model encourages developers to organize themselves according to their best abilities and to develop achievable yet ambitious goals. Via the Scrum approach, projects and workloads are divided into “Sprints”, each with a duration of two weeks.

A sprint planning meeting begins the process. A daily standup meeting keeps everyone on track.  Each sprint ends with a sprint review meeting where the completed work is presented.  A final sprint retrospective at the end of the two-week sprint recaps the project, in order to assess what was effective and to implement any necessary improvements.



Jan Boddin – Managing Partner / CEO

In 1999 Jan Boddin founded subshell Gmbh with business partner Tom Quellenberg. Jan focused on building a successful company by employing a highly motivated and well-trained team of IT specialist. From 1997-1999, before starting subshell, Jan worked for the multimedia agency Elephant Seven as a programmer on various projects for clients including Mercedes Benz and Deutsche Bank. In his time there, due to his success, he was promoted to Technical Director. Jan Boddin studied Philosophy and Mathematics at the University of Hamburg, Germany. After completing his master’s thesis, he collaborated on the project “Epistemic Systems” at university for one year.

Geschäftsführer der subshell GmbH: Jan Boddin

Tom Quellenberg - Managing Partner / CTO

Since the founding of subshell with partner Jan Boddin, Tom Quellenberg is responsible for the continued technical excellence of the company. His leadership role is to maintain a standard of innovation and forward thinking without jeopardizing the usability of subshell’s products. Before beginning subshell, Tom gathered many years of experience as a consultant for various IT projects. Tom Quellenberg is a trained and certified Computer Engineer/Programmer and spent several years as a researcher at the FZI  (Forschungszentrum Informatik) in the German city of Karlsruhe, working on the development and conception of data bank systems.

Geschäftsführer der subshell GmbH: Tom Quellenberg

Nils Hergert – Member of the Executive Board

With subshell since the year 2000, Nils is responsible for the subshell’s success in the media industry. With the development and launch of Sophora, Nils Hergert guided the company’s evolution from a start-up to a successful player in the CMS market place. Nils Hergert holds a M.A. in philosophy, computer science and linguistics from University of Hamburg, Germany.

Mitglied der Geschäftsführung: Nils Hergert

Sören Müller – Member of the Executive Board

Sören Müller has been working for subshell since 2000 and makes certain that the agile product development process is smooth and easy. In addition to these responsibilities, Sören Müller heads up the project management team. Sören Müller began his career at subshell while studying computer science at the University of Hamburg


At subshell, we have four development teams each with up to seven employees. Each team establishes individual priorities and is self-organized according to the agile process model, "Scrum". A development team makes its own decisions, and takes responsibility for their projects and work flow, thereby ensuring a more cohesive working environment. In addition, each team has its own budget for team-building measures. Currently, there are approximately 45 employees at our office in Hamburg’s HafenCity.

subshell and the Environment

subshell works responsibly and sustainably. Environmental protection is an integral part of our company policy and is based on the Eco-Management and Audit Scheme (EMAS III) and the international standard ISO 14001. As part of this process, subshell GmbH continually reviews and evaluates the environmental aspects of its work and the environmental goals to adjust its actions accordingly. Some examples include: we use the necessary resources in an economical and environmentally aware fashion, and avoid waste and then dispose of it properly. When selecting our work materials and the office equipment we give precedence to products with the most environmentally friendly production, use and disposal possibilities.

subshell strives for the continuous improvement of environmental protection over and above statutory requirements. To this end, we have integrated our environmental management as agile process, with clear responsibilities in our daily workflow.

Some key points:

  • subshell has very low average CO2 emissions per employee.
  • We promote an on-going open team based discussion on the subject of environmental protection and give all employees the opportunity to be involved.
  • subshell avoids (indirect) emissions and compensates (indirect) emissions.
  • subshell purchases green electricity from a regional provider.
  • Our employees travel by train to their client meetings when possible – subshell provides the BahnCards, the discount train ticket subscription service.
  • When we have to fly, the CO2 compensation of a flight is an integral part of the business trip.
  • Our non-critical servers are located at a provider with CO2 neutral hosting.
  • 90% of the paper we use is recycled.
  • We drink a lot of coffee - but it is all 100 % fair trade coffee.
  • And last, but not least, almost the entire subshell team commutes to work by public transportation or by bicycle.

subshell: A History


ZDF chooses Sophora! Complete launch follows in October as ZDF merged ZDF.de and ZDFmediathek into one portal, and modernizes and optimizes their sites for all relevant devices and third-party platforms.

Sophora 2.3 comes with a completely renewed editor.

Sophora CMS Editor

Tagesschau app 2.0 launches and replaces the app of 2010 with a new design and a vertical video format.


Completion of a long term project at WDR! All online publications are now running on Sophora CMS.

Sophora 2.0 is available!

SWR chooses Sophora CMS over CoreMedia CMS. SWR’s in-house developer team starts implementation.

coliquio chooses Sophora CMS. coliquio is Germany’s leading physician-only social network.

subshell is adding skilled employees as business continually grows. Two of subshell’s development teams move into neighboring offices.


subshell celebrates its 15th anniversary.

Bayerischer Rundfunk successfully reports on the Sochi Olympics on sportschau.de/olympia. Sophora performs without any interferences.

kika.de launches with Sophora CMS. kika.de is the website of the children‘s channel of ARD and ZDF.

subshell presents the new add-on „User-Generated Content”.

subshell introduces DeskClient scripting, a versatile customization tool for Sophora.

15 Jahre subshell GmbH


The ARD performs an adaptive design re-launch of its websites. The new pages are designed to adapt to different screen sizes. The websites of boerse.ard.de, daserste.de, sportschau.de and tagesschau.de are based on subshell’s Sophora CMS.

subshell promotes education for quality journalism and is involved as a sponsor member at the German School of Journalism in Munich (www.djs-online.de).

With the new Sophora Add-ons Data Store and High Availability Cluster subshell addresses the needs of larger Sophora installations.

subshell optimized Sophora with the ongoing releases 1.37, 1.38, 1.50. With each release, the launch of Sophora 2.0 draws nearer.


subshell integrates the Solr search engine seamlessly in Sophora, which allows for fast and context-aware (internal) searches. With this feature, subshell gives all Sophora developers a very powerful tool for the publication of personalized and contextualized content and for the development of apps. In addition subshell develops a live preview for Sophora, which ensures that the built- in Sophora editor preview is updated in real-time automatically when writing or compiling text.

subshell has one of its most financially successful years in its 10-year history.


subshell presents the add-on Feed-Manager, which allows all content, whether from external or internal sources, to be easily imported and then updated in the Sophora DeskClient.

subshell is pleased with the successful launches of n-joy.de, eurovision.de and wdr2.de. The BR switched from BR-online to BR.de with Sophora. Since then, more than 600 networked users throughout the BR operate with Sophora; up to 200 of them are logged in at the same time.


subshell’s partner network grows to over 18 members and ranges from well-known global players to smaller local IT specialists.

subshell launches Toromiro, its second product. Toromiro is developed for the growing number of Administrators of Java Content Repositories and the developers that work with them.


subshell celebrates its 10th year in operation and continued growth during a period of worldwide financial uncertainty.

The MDR decides for Sophora. Further television broadcasters follow.


subshell relocates to a former cement storage facility in Hamburg’s booming HafenCity. The company is fully concentrated on product development and related services.

subshell Räumlichkeiten in der Hamburger HafenCity


subshell launches Sophora. tagesschau.de and the NDR are the first clients.

subshell consults TicketOnline with the re-launch of their online ticket portal and offers continued support in the area of technology development for the customer.


subshell is chosen for the technology implementation for Volkswagen’s “Sound Foundation”. Musicians and bands can use “Sound Foundation” as an online vehicle to keep in contact with their fan base. Fans can locate special forums, download music and receive exclusive invitations to concerts and special events. Fans can participate in the selection of new talent for the foundation’s support program, which is aimed at offering new musicians the right information and support to succeed in the music industry.

subshell decides to part with subsequent, in order to better focus on its own product development projects.

Due to the success of the agile software development methodology, subshell switches its entire development process to the Scrum method.

subshell realisiert den Webauftritt der „Volkswagen Sound Foundation“


subshell is chosen as the software developer for the Bundeszentrale fuer Politische Bildung’s video asset management needs. The solution is based on the open-source-software “DSpace” and is developed in such a way that cross-media and multi-media media formats can be easily researched and located.

subshell participates in subsequent GmbH, which provides solutions for the downloading and selling of digital media assets.

In the same year, subshell develops a meta-data editor for Universal Music Germany. The editor can easily work with local and international databases to better sort, access and catalog data. subshell begins to work with the Eclipse Rich Client Platform (RCP),  which Sophora will later be based upon.

subshell realisiert mit der Open-Source-Software "DSpace" die bpb Mediathek


subshell expands and relocated to a loft located in a former hygrometer factory in Hamburg’s trendy Sternschanze neighborhood.

In the same year, subshell develops TableStar for the NDR, a program that compiles statistics for sporting events. This is the first project at a German broadcaster that is guided by the principles of agile software development.

subshell launches the search engine subsearch, which is based on “Apache Lucene” technology. Through this process subshell adds a user interface for managing indices, statistics, web services and crawl functions to LuceneThe NDR and other subshell clients switch to subsearch.

tagesschau.de is nominated for a Grimme Online Award.

subshell Historie: Räumlichkeiten in der Hamburger Sternschanze


subshell develops the online jazz and classical musical portal for Universal Music Group German, JazzEcho.de and KlassikAkzente.de.

subshell launches the software type-o-mat for online typographical image generation.

ZDF starts using subshell’s teletext editor Texas for a larger part of their videotexts. With this change, one editorial team leads the online and teletext offers.

subshell entwickelt das Online-Portal JazzEcho.de für Universal Music


The music download portal popfile.de is launchedby former German Chancellor Gerhard Schroeder and a former Universal Music Executive, Tim Renner. The portal uses subCMS and features an integrated product catalog and ordering system.

subshell develops a newsletter management system makano. Makano sends 250,000 personalized newsletters weekly to registered fans. With this powerful new tool, Universal Music easily remains in contact with 2,45 million email addresses and 1287 different mailing lists.

Musik-Download-Portal popfile.de läuft mit subshells subCMS


subshell launches subCMS, a java based content management system. The new CMS is put to use at all of subshell’s clients, including Universal Music Germany, Ticket Online and VW.

subshell leads the change to an RSS exchange format for the ARD.

subshell develops a versatile business-to-business software for Universal Music, universal b2b. Universal Music then launches universal b2b and is able to offer its distributors the most current information regarding new releases, marketing strategies and special events.

subshell Historie: subCMS, ein java-basiertes Content-Management-System


tagesschau.de and the NDR choose subshell for their online programming needs. subshell builds fullstory for the NDR, a new content management system based on Vignette. The foundation of a long-term cooperation with NDR is laid as subshell continues to build and expand its expertise in the media industry. fullstory was in use until 2007.

subshell wins the bid from Universal Music Group German to build a centralized product catalog. The product catalog is so structured that all content can be accessed via all Universal websites and other publication. Another long-term working relationship begins.


Tom Quellenberg and Jan Boddin found the software firm subshell in Hamburg, Germany

subshell creates the content management website for BMW’s Formula One website and Mini website, in conjunction with the agency Kabel New Media.

subshell Historie: Content-Management für die BMW Motorsport-Websites