Feeds

Another investor pulls out of Habbo Hotel after grooming claims

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

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

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. ®

Choosing a cloud hosting partner with confidence

More from The Register

next story
Wanna keep your data for 1,000 YEARS? No? Hard luck, HDS wants you to anyway
Combine Blu-ray and M-DISC and you get this monster
US boffins demo 'twisted radio' mux
OAM takes wireless signals to 32 Gbps
Google+ GOING, GOING ... ? Newbie Gmailers no longer forced into mandatory ID slurp
Mountain View distances itself from lame 'network thingy'
Apple flops out 2FA for iCloud in bid to stop future nude selfie leaks
Millions of 4chan users howl with laughter as Cupertino slams stable door
Students playing with impressive racks? Yes, it's cluster comp time
The most comprehensive coverage the world has ever seen. Ever
Run little spreadsheet, run! IBM's Watson is coming to gobble you up
Big Blue's big super's big appetite for big data in big clouds for big analytics
Seagate's triple-headed Cerberus could SAVE the DISK WORLD
... and possibly bring us even more HAMR time. Yay!
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.