Balderton Capital has checked out of Habbo Hotel following a scathing exposé of the virtual world’s failure to protect its young users against sexual material.

Balderton is returning its 13 per cent stake at zero value and resigning from the board of Habbo’s parent Sulake, as first reported by the Kernel. The venture capital firm had been Sulake’s second-largest shareholder.

A spokesperson for Balderton told the Kernel: “We didn’t take this decision lightly, as we have been investors in Sulake for over 8 years, but the standards required to run a website that children have access to are very high. We felt the company was not meeting those standards.”

British television’s Channel 4 News aired the report that triggered this catastrophic chain of events for Sulake in addition to posting it on its website, detailing graphic conversations, suggestions for sexual encounters, and other unsolicited examples of unquestionably inappropriate activity.

Habbo, one of the longest-running virtual worlds for children, has long prided itself of being a safe place for young people to socialize. Sulake says its flagship property has 268 million registered users and 9 million unique visitors per month, more than half of whom are between 13 and 16 years old, and is available in 11 languages and over 150 countries.

Paul LaFontaine, who has been Sulake’s CEO for less than a year, told Channel 4 News it is committed to ensuring that children are safe on the site and reiterated that in a lengthy statement on the company’s blog with details of how Habbo supports that position.

Related links:

Channel 4 [U.K.] – Striptease and cyber sex: my stay at Habbo Hotel

Channel 4 [U.K.] – Should your child play in Habbo Hotel?

The Kernel – Habbo Exposed as Pedophile Haven

Sulake blog – Message from the CEO


  1. I love how people are attacking habbo Hotel, when there are ton’s of chat rooms that kids are on where every other person is a pedophile, in Habbo, there is this little button you can click, i think it says IGNORE, oh there is another thing, you can do, like, leave the room your in? but people are to ignorant to think before they act.

  2. Habbo requires users to be aged 13+. Teens are not ‘children’. In a nation where teens are stabbing/impregnating each other I think it’s safe to assume they are internet savvy and wont be preyed upon.

  3. I’ve been messaging Paul Lafontaine about illegal casinos, operation of child sex rooms and other illegal activity since September 2011. Prior to that I was emailing Ex-CEO Timo Soininen. in 2006 Timo Soininen responded to one of my emails saying he would investigate the situation of child cyber sex. He ended up neglecting the children by doing nothing. He then ignored thousands of emails from hundreds of people up until 2011 when CEO – Paul Lafontaine took over this child brothel. After 6 years of witnessing some of the most disgusting behaviour I decided to start a twitter account called several months before this issue hit the news.I was so disgusted by what I seen i was ready to dedicate my entire life to raise awareness about Sickos like Paul Lafontaine who many believe organize teams of spammers to gather teens within the network he controls to develope child pornography. Paul Lafontaine has made it his personal battle to ban anyone bringing attention to the sick problems within his community. Imagine sending him am email and within hours being banned for reporting this issue that could have been clearly prevented if anyone within this heartly organization cared. The fact is the people who own Habbo have known about the issue and have done nothing about it. They have actually contributed to the issue by releasing furniture that resemble sex toys, included sex rooms under the staff pick list and banned players who questioned why rooms like “Sex club” is the highest rated room on habbo. All Habbo staff and management should have been arrested locked away for life for knowningly neglecting a serious issue like this. Justice will prevail and Paul Lafontain, Timo Soininen and the rest of the owners will be arrested without a doubt!

  4. I am a player of habbo i am 14 years old and i think This is a horrible to totally focus on Habbo hotel when there is many other much more dangerous social networking sites. E.g. Facebook, Twitter… you could even be contacted on sites like youtube. Habbo hotel for many years have been keeping children and teens off the streets and safe in their own homes.
    Shutting habbo down is just an ‘easy’ get out from parents teaching their children about the dangers in life… shutting this down will not erase the bad that could happen to us in the real world.. all we need is for ourselves to be educated about sexual predators … On habbo hotel their is an ‘ignore’ and ‘report’ button but not in reality. Not to mention the millions many have paid for habbo furniture.
    Also i know im only young yet and still have alot to learn but habbo has tought me many things in life which i will treasure… For example… Scams which could happen to anyone in reality… I also got tought through habbo you can trust anyone you meet… I did also realize the world is not friendly and has pedophiles and other criminals
    This is a very upsetting time for me :'(