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Phorm loses top UK executives

The UK CEO and CFO of the behavioural-targeted advertising firm have resigned, prompting new appointments
Written by David Meyer, Contributor

Phorm, which provides ad-targeting technology that tracks people's behaviour online, has lost two of its key UK business chiefs.

Hugo Drayton, the company's UK chief executive, will leave "by mutual agreement" at the end of December, Phorm said in a statement on Wednesday. UK chief financial officer Lynne Millar has also resigned.

Describing his time at Phorm as "exciting and rewarding", Drayton said in the statement that he was "looking forward to exploring new challenges in the fast-evolving media world".

Phorm, which is headquartered in Delaware in the US, has developed technology which monitors users' online behaviour in order to better target advertising at them. The company markets this technology to ISPs, and Drayton headed up the company's business for UK-based clients.

Drayton, who will stay on as an adviser to the company, is to be replaced by London-based deputy chief executive officer Nan Richards, and UK managing director Nick Barnett. Richards was previously president of Turner Broadcasting System Europe, part of Time Warner, and Barnett is being promoted from his previous position as Phorm's UK commercial director.

Following Millar's departure, Andrew Croxson — formerly of Ingenious Consulting — is being appointed interim global chief financial officer. Croxson, Richards and Barnett's new appointments follow four more that occurred just weeks before, themselves the result of four board-level resignations attributed to "differences" with Phorm chief executive Kent Ertugrul.

"I'd like to welcome Nan, Andrew and Nick to their new roles," said Ertugrul in Wednesday's statement. "Their appointments are central to the delivery of our strategic objectives through the next important phase of our development. I thank both Hugo and Lynne for their significant contributions and wish them well in their future endeavours. They have helped lay the foundations for a successful commercial launch in the UK and beyond."

BT recently completed a third trial of Phorm's technology. The trials have attracted protests from many quarters — largely because the first two trials were conducted without user consent — but the telecoms provider now expects to go ahead with a full deployment, with the service being branded as 'Webwise'.

In Wednesday's statement, Ertugrul noted "significant progress in the development of partnerships and the testing of [Phorm's] technology".

"I am also pleased that we have completed the trial with BT and look forward to moving to the next stage of development," Ertugrul said. "I believe that we are now uniquely placed to lead the introduction of privacy-assured behavioural advertising across the whole of the internet."

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