Phorm's controversial time on the stock market stumbled toward an ignominious end on Thursday as the notorious money-pit failed to find further funding, its nominated adviser Strand Hanson threw in the towel and a winding-up process began.
Long-suffering shareholders, including those that contributed to the £24.5m raised over six placings in the last two years, were warned off from attempting insolvency proceedings as it "does not anticipate that shareholders will receive any proceeds".
While Phorm's silver-tongued directors and advisers had for years been able to coax another few million every four or five months from investors tempted by its impressive-seeming advertising technology, the company's best efforts to secure financing in recent months had been £350,000 raised from a convertible loan note with existing shareholder Michael Bigger.
Under chief executive Kent Ertugrul, who was the company's driving forces under its previous guides of 121Media and through to his resignation last July, Phorm raised more than £160m between 2003 and June 2014 through share issues with the help of brokers including Evolution Securities, Mirabaud Securities and Liberum Securities.
Phorm became a household name for the wrong reasons in 2009 when its Webwise online advertising system, which BT was poised to roll out, was criticised for tracking the internet habits of customers - a practice that seems altogether less controversial nowadays.
Despite the assurance last month that management remained locked in "advanced discussions" with certain shareholders and other parties regarding potential funding, necessary to extricate its shares
from suspension, on Thursday the company admitted defeat after failing to agree either equity or debt funding to continue operating.
"Accordingly, the board of directors of Phorm, having taken appropriate legal advice, is in the process of ceasing the group's trading activities and taking the necessary steps to significantly reduce the group's headcount and overheads."
After Strand Hanson nominated adviser resigned with immediate effect, this resulted in the automatic cancellation of the company's ordinary shares, which having topped £35 in 2007 were suspended in February at 0.905p, from trading on AIM.