back to article Phorm gets £15m lifeline

Phorm has today raised a £15m war chest by selling almost a fifth of itself to institutional investors at less than a quarter of its price last year. It'll use the cash to cover its operating costs while ISPs continue to mull its web monitoring and profiling system. The firm sold 3.3 million shares at £4.50 each. It has been …


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  1. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down


    You bastards!!!

  2. Conrad Longmore

    Die already

    Is Phorm not dead yet? I wish it would hurry up and die already.

    Anyone know who these "institutional investors" are? I would very much like to make sure that I'm not doing business with them.

  3. Ian
    Thumb Up

    Thank the Gods!

    If Phorm had gone under who would have stolen and then sold all my browsing habits? How could I be targeted with a million adverts for something I'd already just bought?

    I do wish poeple could see just how wonderful and important Phorm is to the future of the Interwebs. I'd hate to miss an advert that I might potentially be interested in. I would gladly have my every action and thought monitored and recorded, 24 hours a day, to make sure this never happened, if it were possible, Phorm is definitely a step in the right direction.

  4. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    Dragons Den

    Poor old Kent, standing there like one of the misfits on Dragon's Den, trying to push a lousy product nobody really wants or needs.

    75% of the company for £20k ... that will do nicely.

  5. Ian Ferguson
    Thumb Down

    Who is behind this?

    There's got to be some pretty serious and well-respected people behind Phorm if they can raise capital this easily, considering their shitty business plan. And seeing how easily they got into bed with the government and BT, I really do smell a rat.

  6. Anonymous Coward
    Black Helicopters


    Generally speaking investment houses dont buy stuff even at knock down prices without knowing that it could come good at some stage.

    Given the outright failure to prosecute Phorm and BT followed by the recent spate of news items from ex MI6 bods saying keeping data etc is essential to security etc etc then its only a matter of time before Phorm's technology is deployed by HMG let alone the targeted advertising stuff.

    There is obviously value in there technology and the lack of ISP implementation is probably not that important to them as the real money will come from our emerging police state.

    Black helicopters - obviously

  7. Adam Salisbury
    Thumb Up


    Best news I've heard all day, hurry up and die already, scum!

  8. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Halo

    @Virgin Media and Talk Talk yet to trial

    If the respective bosses have got _any_ sense at all then this is the way it'll stay at VM and TT. Surely, they've seen all the bad press (thanks el Reg!) that BT's got over their trials - in which case do they really want the same treatment?

    I've made my personal disgust at BT's continuing dealings with Phorm evident by the simple measure of cancelling all my services with them and moving them elsewhere. Maybe if enough folks do the same then the brass at BT will get the message "Phorm = bad" loud and clear.

    Someone I know also suggested that, next time you're talking to VM/TT's customer services, that Phorm is mentioned - i.e. "Any news about that Phorm stuff you're looking at?". Then make it plain that "Phorm = bad" to those folks too. Again, if enough bad feeling gets sent back to the bosses at VM/TT then it'll see the end to their involvement too.

    Is it just me or is Phorm like the lead adversary in a zombie flick - no matter how much you damage it, it just keeps going ... In these days where businesses are failing left and right, Phorm is one of the companies I'd be glad to see the back of (telemarketing and HP being the others).

    Bill Gates icon because I wish he'd spend some pocket change and buy Phorm to close it. ;)

  9. Tony Barnes

    @ AC, @ Conrad, & @ everyone else who beats me to it

    x 2 !!

    Who on earth would sink money into this??? Surely no sane stock broker could advise this as a good investment?

  10. Rod MacLean
    Thumb Up


    If they're now only worth a quarter of what they were worth a year ago AND they haven't yet released their financial results, what does that tell you?

    They have no income, no-one likes them and it looks like Virgin Media are not going to take them on...

    June 18th and they could be in serious trouble...

  11. Nigel
    Thumb Down

    Institutional investors

    If any investors now own more than 3% of Phorm or more than 1% more of Phorm than they did before, they'll have to issue a market regulatory news item within a week. You can read such items here. (No such RNSs yet).

    Die, Phorm, Die!

  12. Bobby


    Obviously some people still think this product is legal...

  13. Lionel Baden

    Light the BBQ

    thats news enough for a party :D

    dont forget your brolly

  14. Ed Blackshaw Silver badge

    It's nice to see...

    ...that in a time fo recession, there are still people prepared to put good money after bad. I hope they lose their houses, and are subsequently forced to live in the caves where they belong.

  15. Anonymous Coward
    Anonymous Coward

    That should buy a lot of webspace on which to place ranty blogs

    which seems to be the sum total of Phorm's market activity in the last few months

  16. Rat
    Dead Vulture

    Here's hoping...

    ...that this heralds Phorm's slide into ignominious obscurity. Couldn't happen to a nicer bunch of tards.

    Tombstone because, let's be honest, that's where we'd all like to see Kent E and the rest of Phorm.

  17. BoldMan
    Thumb Down

    Institutional investors should be sodding Institutionalized!

    Just Phuck off and die already!

  18. Gordon Henderson

    Burn Rate ...

    They raised £32 million... Spent it in 12 months - just under £3 million a month.

    Where is it going?

    Or which fat-cat is creaming off the bulk of it all?

    Or it just me?

  19. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    still a viable company tho?

    That they managed to sell at any price in the current market is worrying and points to them being potentially close to a deal. They will have given the investors a heads up I'm sure, to encoruage them in.

  20. Anonymous Coward
    Gates Horns


    Short sellers rather than investors is my bet, not long now...

  21. Werner McGoole
    Thumb Down

    Dead cat anyone?

    I just hope these institutional investors aren't investing my pension.

  22. Camilla Smythe


    Well, at least that's the lights taken care of.

  23. A B

    directly to jail

    Do not pass GO Do not collect 4.50 a share.

  24. Stephane Mabille
    Paris Hilton


    Which institutional investor is stupid enough to give away its customer money? Obviously some people have learned nothing....

    Would be nice to know (and sure to give them good publicity over such a safe investment!)

    Paris: No, even her is not THAT stupid.

  25. Steve Poll

    gotta laff

    who in their right mind would invest in a bunch of (insert expletive) .

    We need to know where to send the men in white coats

  26. RichyS
    Thumb Down

    Institutional investors?

    Shouldn't that be 'institutionalised investors'?

    I hope they lose their shirts (straight-jackets?) on this one...

  27. Eponymous Cowherd

    This must have annoyed BT

    I had the impression that BT were dragging their heals over webwise roll-out, waiting for Phorm to die, so they could get out of any contractual obligations with Phorm without major penalty.

    Now they will have to choose whether to go ahead with the Webwise roll-out (and loose masses of customers) or tell Phorm to phuck off and take the financial hit.

    Privacy Pirate.

  28. Des Gibbons
    Paris Hilton

    I know a fool and his money are easily parted...

    But, really, are the investors really that stupid?

    I have an idea I have invented some technology that will allow me to sneak spoken adverts into mobile phone calls. We'll just partner up with the mobile companies and opt all their customers in, sure they won't mind weak willed scum that customers are.

    So, down to brass tacks, I have 10 mil shares at £10 a go, form an orderly queue please, no shoving at the back, don't worry if we run out of shares, you can always get some later when we've pissed the first cash injection up the wall. for updates on the 118800 privacy disaster.

  29. Anonymous Coward
    IT Angle

    140 staff!?!

    Does anyone know what those 140 staff are doing? Just how hard is it to write some logging software?

  30. Camilla Smythe

    Oh...... you can see it coming!!!!

    Here we go three, four eight.

    Phorm *is* about to go down the pan. This is the setup for the stitch up of shareholders. If it is not done via NebuAdd or Insight Ready then it will be done by a 'Ready Made' company set up just before they 'steal' the company on the basis of a 'Pre-Pack'.

    Company is now 'in debt' to 'creditors' under what is termed a 'floating charge'. Creditors convert the 'floating charge', i.e. call the debt in. Phorm can't pay. Creditors slap Phorm into administration. You wan't to see how fast that can happen????

    It only takes a day!

    Administrators need to 'sell' company and smarm about keeping it as a going concern and maintaining the number of employees and servicing customers. Look around for offers on the table.

    The only one is coming from the creditors.

    Administrators sign the company over to the creditors for what is effectively zero money.

    "We are pleased to announce that we have managed to keep the company as a going concern with all staff in employment and customers happy. Shareholders will get Jack Shit"

    Now Phorm has cleared all its debts and pissed off the Shareholders. It belongs to the 'new' named pre-pack company under private ownership, that or maybe Insight Ready??

    BT/Virgin/Talk Talk et al suddenly stop dithering and sign up to the service. Full steam ahead.


    Now what I've said above might be slightly contentious regarding publishing it so I would not blame The Reg if they don't but have a look around for what happened recently at Axeon Holdings. Check out how a pre-pack can be and is mis-used and then see if 2+2 = PROFIT

    Otherwise if you do publish and someone, more knowlegeable, picks up on it and tests for fesibility then..... fingers crossed. They will be caught before they try it. The share will get shorted to buggery and then suspended and.... hopefully someone will get prosecuted.

    Still the shareholders get shafted, although they deserve it for investing in such shit. Then the company still gets bought out of administration for nothing and BT et Al carry on with the master plan.


  31. Steve

    I wonder why they get away with it?

    Oh perhaps they have friends who used to be in high places who still have friends who are...

    Lord Lamont

    Non-Executive Director

    Lord Lamont was a member of the House of Commons for 25 years; Chancellor of the Exchequer between 1990 and 1993 and was a minister in the Departments of Energy, Defence and Industry. He currently serves as chairman, director and advisor for a number of companies and investment funds and has considerable business experience both in the UK and internationally.

  32. Dave Silver badge

    why don't we...

    ...organise a whip-round and get enough money to buy a majority shareholding in Phorm, then just dissolve the f***er but keep the rights to te technology to Phorm can't reinvent itself?

  33. Anonymous Coward
    Thumb Down

    Bad publicity

    F**k BT and f**k phorm. It's up to the reg readers to make as much noise as possible every time an ISP / Teleco gets into bed with these spyvermin that they'll think twice about it. The public aren't going to like having every browsing habit eyeballed by a greedy ISP and a spyware pusher- it's just that the average person doesn't have a clue what's going on yet.

  34. adnim

    Highest value for 9 months

    The current share price is the highest it has been in 9 months after rumours of deployment in S. Korea raised the price from an all time low. Perhaps now is the time to take advantage before the rumours fade into obscurity or they are disproved. With no commitment as yet from any UK ISP this is all they have going for them at this time. All it would take to cause the share price to plummet once more would be KT, the S. Korean broadband provider associated with rolling out Phorm to publicly refute the Phorm claim of potential deployment there.

    I am willing this to happen but unfortunately KT have not yet succumbed to my will. Mind you neither does my missus so I am not very hopeful of having any influence on the S. Koreans.

  35. David S

    @Gordon Henderson

    Well, if they have 140 staff and no income then those £3M / month would average out at roughly £20k per employee. Taking normal business overheads into account, this burn rate could simply be accounted for by operating costs, without assuming that Mr E is skimming.

    Bad news is that, at the current rate of burn, they won't die for another five months or so. And no doubt they'll start shedding employees and moving to cheaper premises before the end, postponing what we hope is the inevitable by another few months.

    What worries me, as pointed out already by others, is that investors in the current climate are less likely to throw cash away on a shiny prospectus and some fancy words. Kunt may actually have something up his sleeve at this point, dammit...

  36. Tristan Buckley

    When will they...


  37. The Fuzzy Wotnot


    Somewhere, out there, even maybe on your train tonight....the lead developer of the Phorm software will be sitting wondering whether they ( could be a man or woman! ) will have a job the other side of Xmas? They may well talk to you and tell you they're worried about their job in IT, you would have sympathy for them, being in IT yourself, not knowing all along that he was working for C**t Ghoul!

    Creepy eh?

  38. Camilla Smythe

    Please Enable JavaScript

    How would you like me to enable it?

    JavaThing did update itself this morning so... Maybe Phorm is not up to speed on the latest JavaThing.

    Perhaps JavaThing got updated due to security issues and is now flagging Phorms webshite as being untrusted content and therefore ignoring it.

    Tell you what Phorm.... why not disable yourselves.

    Still. Nice to see that 'Phorm WebWise Discover' is sooooooo bleeding edge that it does not work. Well done Sun.

    Wonder what Phorm shareholders feel about Phorms FlagShip product not Phucking Working because JavaThing is not enabled when JavaThing IS?

  39. Dennis 5

    I would have bought shares............

    What better way to destroy the company than from within...

    Yes I have been to see Mark Thomas on pro-active action.

    Can I have a icon for pro-active action please.

    Until I get that I will use the Pirates...... Har Har

  40. Anonymous Coward

    standard business practise

    is to buy up your opposition, so you can neutralise them ... I suspect that following Phorms publishing the textbook on how NOT to set up a company to monitor surfers web habits, there's another company (maybe part of BT itself) who are poised to try again, but this time with more charm, and subtlety. In that case, buying up the opposition, so you can control it's death makes good sense, rather than risking it being bought up and revived by your rivals ...

  41. Dan 10
    Thumb Down

    Rodent odour

    Hang on. I used to work for a code-intensive software firm that was producing 4 products at once, with testing, support and marketing teams plus a decent-size salesforce. The employee numbers hovered around the 140 area, with a lot of well-paid people. We had a push to reduce the monthly spend to just under £1m per month including reimbursed expenses and everything. So a, where's all that money going, and b, why would anyone invest? The fact that they seem to be bullet-proof in the eyes of the law just adds to the smell on this one. Something is well and truly up.

  42. TeeCee Gold badge
    Dead Vulture


    I take issue with that sub-heading as it implies a sense of relief at a problem averted. A feeling which I don't think is shared by anyone around here in connection with Phorm's continued existance.

    "Phuck!" would be phar more appropriate under the circumstances.

  43. Piers

    @Camilla Smythe - Please Enable JavaScript

    JavaSCRIPT, not Java.

    Sorry about SHOUTING, no bold.

    And Phorm, yeah, sooner gone the better!


  44. Anonymous Coward


    "Java" and "Javascript" are entirely separate things, despite the similarity of the names. You have Java enabled. You have scripting disabled.

  45. King Edward I

    I say...

    ...we take off and nuke the site from orbit. It's the only way to be sure.

  46. Camilla Smythe

    RE JavaThingy

    Seems to work for other Thingys on the operating systems though. Plus they checked with people in the street

    There you go. Works for 84% of people in the country so maybe I am sort of thick.

    Was it one of those BSOD thingies I've read about?

  47. H2Nick

    Phuck the Phuck off & die

    I'm guessing anything stronger & closer to what I really feel re Phorm might have got moderated....

  48. Anonymous Coward
    Paris Hilton

    Digital britain

    I'm still pretty sure we'll all be phormed one way or another within a year or two - I reckon's conspicuously obvious silence (err... what did you say?) is a dead give away. My moneys on Carters incredibly insipid 'digital britain' report giving it the nod in one way or another, doubtless couched in bloodless quangocrat terminology.

    Paris; knows an inevitable shafting when she sees one

  49. pAnoNymous

    somone must be raking it in

    £32m/150staff/1 year/only their office infrastructure to support/nothing to advertise/free press: 213k per staff member/year.

    someone must be raking it in whether Phorm make it or not.

  50. Martin Nelson

    Phorm - Brown Link?

    I can't help wondering if Phorm and Gordon Brown are like some kind of evil experiment gone wrong. No matter how wounded they are they just seem to keep coming. It;s like some terrible B movie where the evil enemy keeps coming and coming and coming.

    Will either of them ever just admit defeat and stay down?

  51. David 45

    Fade away

    'Bout time they called it a day, I reckon. Rats and sinking ship, anyone?

  52. kain preacher


    I'm thinking this.

    Kent has naughty pictures of some in government.

    Some how he got a contract from the government to secretly spy on people in the future.

    Greatest hustler of all times.

  53. Camilla Smythe

    Why does Phorm need the ISPs?

    Is it because, although they claim in some way to 'anonymise' the data that they collect on your browsing habits such that it cannot be traced back to you they still need a way of tracing it back to you for their system [scheme] to function?

    Would they therefore have to rely on the logs kept by the ISPs to make that link. I'm not talking about the IP history of sites that you visit, access to that, unless authorised under law would be illegal.

    Rather the IP history of your connection as supplied by the ISP specific to the customer. E.g... at the moment I am on Since it is a dynamic address in a couple of hours I might end up on and so on. If my ISP is, at a later date going to have to provide information to the authorities about what nefarious deeds I have been up to on line then they must log this to match it to the rest of the data they have.

    That list of assigned IP addresses must uniquely identify me, presumably ultimately by means of some customer number. It might be illegal for my ISP to give Phorm full information about the logs that they keep. However would it be illegal for them to give Phorm the information about my assigned IP over time. If not then that would be the way that Phorm is able to uniquely identify me and why they 'need' co-operation from the ISPs.

    Even so, if that is a method by which Phorm tracks me, and I'm hard pressed to work out another one unless I have specifically installed their software on my computer so they can do so, then the claim that the data they collect cannot be tracked back to me is false. It has to be false anyway since that has to happen so their system can work.

    Scuse me..... just rambling.

  54. John Smith 19 Gold badge
    Thumb Down

    A more effective deterrant is needed.

    Something along the lines of live crucifixion of the CEO followed by evisceration (the video to be discretely circulated to suitable media outlets) to discourage future investors in such plans.

    Just a thought.

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