Feeds

Another investor pulls out of Habbo Hotel after grooming claims

'Focused on safety of our users': Shurely not all of them

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications

Investors are pulling out of Finnish social networking firm Sulake and its teen-aimed website Habbo Hotel after revelations that Habbo was hosting illicit content.

Private equity firm 3i announced today that it had left Sulake's board and was ditching its 16 per cent stake in Habbo Hotel, a social gaming network and online community for teenagers.

"3i has actively supported the Sulake board in determining the right course of action in these very challenging circumstances," the firm said in an emailed statement.

"Following a board meeting today, we have resigned our board position and will cease to be a shareholder in the company."

3i's opt-out follows that of investor Balderton Capital, a London-based venture capital firm, which said on Tuesday that it was dumping its 13 per cent stake in Sulake after the news of pornographic chat on the site broke.

Channel 4 News reporters posing as children on the site claimed they were sent explicit messages and urged by other users to undress in front of web cams.

"We were saddened to hear of 3i's decision to leave the board of Sulake," a company spokesperson told The Register, "however our primary focus right now is on the safety of our community users."

Yesterday, Sulake CEO Paul LaFontaine said that the firm had decided to mute all conversation on the Habbo Hotel site while it investigated the allegations.

"This decision has not been taken lightly and underlines the company's continuing commitment to ensure that our site users remain safeguarded from inappropriate behaviour and conversations," he said in a post on Sulake's website.

A Sulake spokesperson said today that despite the muting, users were still on the Habbo Hotel site showing their support.

"Since conversations on the site were muted, thousands of loyal users have remained active on the site, holding a silent candle-lit vigil to demonstrate their support for Habbo," they said.

"We have launched an internal review of the site and we will inform our users of outcomes just as soon as we are able."

Sulake would not comment on how losing two sizeable investors would affect it financially.

Habbo Hotel is aimed at children over 13, who are invited to create their own avatars and build "rooms" in the hotel where they can play games and meet people.

Channel 4 News said its investigation had revealed children as young as nine using the site. It also discovered that paedophiles had used the site to groom young girls (full report from Channel 4 here).

Habbo has 268 million users in over 150 countries. ®

The Power of One eBook: Top reasons to choose HP BladeSystem

More from The Register

next story
Apple fanbois SCREAM as update BRICKS their Macbook Airs
Ragegasm spills over as firmware upgrade kills machines
Attack of the clones: Oracle's latest Red Hat Linux lookalike arrives
Oracle's Linux boss says Larry's Linux isn't just for Oracle apps anymore
THUD! WD plonks down SIX TERABYTE 'consumer NAS' fatboy
Now that's a LOT of porn or pirated movies. Or, you know, other consumer stuff
EU's top data cops to meet Google, Microsoft et al over 'right to be forgotten'
Plan to hammer out 'coherent' guidelines. Good luck chaps!
US judge: YES, cops or feds so can slurp an ENTIRE Gmail account
Crooks don't have folders labelled 'drug records', opines NY beak
Manic malware Mayhem spreads through Linux, FreeBSD web servers
And how Google could cripple infection rate in a second
FLAPE – the next BIG THING in storage
Find cold data with flash, transmit it from tape
prev story

Whitepapers

Designing a Defense for Mobile Applications
Learn about the various considerations for defending mobile applications - from the application architecture itself to the myriad testing technologies.
How modern custom applications can spur business growth
Learn how to create, deploy and manage custom applications without consuming or expanding the need for scarce, expensive IT resources.
Reducing security risks from open source software
Follow a few strategies and your organization can gain the full benefits of open source and the cloud without compromising the security of your applications.
Boost IT visibility and business value
How building a great service catalog relieves pressure points and demonstrates the value of IT service management.
Consolidation: the foundation for IT and business transformation
In this whitepaper learn how effective consolidation of IT and business resources can enable multiple, meaningful business benefits.