Hugo Drayton exits controversial digital ad start-up


I see that Hugo Drayton, the man who wrote the original business plan for Electronic Telegraph, has resigned from Phorm, the controversial start-up that promises to generate ad revenues for the likes of BT by snooping on surfers.

Drayton resigned from the managing director’s job at the Telegraph soon after the Barclay brothers pitched up in 2004. Now he’s leaving Phorm alongside chief financial officer Lynne Miller.

Their departures cap a colourful few months at Phorm. Less than three weeks ago, investors witnessed the unexplained exit of Phorm’s chairman, chief operating officer and two non-executive directors. Steven Heyer, the chairman, left after spending approximately 12 weeks on the job.

The timing and extent of these departures is odd enough. 

Even odder is the accompanying news that BT expects to move ahead with deployment of Phorm’s ad platform. This welcome news sent Phorm’s shares shooting up by 40% earlier this week.

Doubtless Drayton has a juicy story to tell. Getting it out of him might prove tricky, though. Sensibly, Phorm has decided to retain him as a consultant.

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