British teen sells app for millions
A LONDON schoolboy has become one of the world’s youngest tech millionaires after selling his mobile app to Yahoo!.
Nick D’Aloisio, 17, developed the app, called Summly, while revising for his mock GCSEs in 2011.
The app, which summarises news stories, will now close and its features will be used in mobile products at Yahoo!. Nick will also start a full-time job at the web giant while he studies for his A-levels.
He said: "I'm hoping to stay [at Yahoo!] as long as it takes to get the technology integrated.
"We were approached a few months ago and what really excited me was their mobile strategy.
"I think this is an amazing opportunity and I didn't want to miss it."
Sources familiar with the deal indicated that Nick received almost $30 million for the app, which has been downloaded around one million times since its launch last year.
Yahoo! said in a statement: "We're excited to share that we're acquiring Summly, a mobile product company founded with a vision to simplify the way we get information, making it faster, easier and more concise."
"At the age of 15, Nick D'Aloisio created the Summly app at his home in London. It started with an insight – that we live in a world of constant information and need new ways to simplify how we find the stories that are important to us, at a glance."
Nick, who lives with his family in Wimbledon, said he had "boring" plans for the money. "I'm planning to invest it - my parents are in control of it," he said. "I want to buy a shoulder bag."
Summly condenses news articles into three key paragraphs that fit onto an iPhone screen. Users can customise the news categories and link to the original article if they like the summary.
A prototype attracted an investment of around $300,000 in November 2011 from Horizons Ventures, the private technology investment company of Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing – also a backer of Facebook, Siri and Spotify.
The investment arrived on Nick’s 16th birthday – making him one of the youngest people ever to attract venture capital funding. Other backers include the celebrities Ashton Kutcher, Stephen Fry and Yoko Ono.
The funding allowed Nick to develop Summly with experts in London and the Stanford Research Institute.
Nick’s mother, a full-time lawyer, became a director and owns shares on his behalf.
Nick will join Yahoo's London office, while two Summly employees will join the firm in San Francisco.
Marissa Mayer, Yahoo's chief executive, has named mobile technology as a top priority for the company. In January, she said she was focused on technology that will personalize content from the web and deliver it to people on their handheld devices.
Nick, who taught himself to code aged 12, told the Telegraph ahead of the app’s launch last November: “I’m described as a net native, so I was born when the internet was founded and have only known a world with internet.
“Young people are just not aware of the constraints, so why not go build a social network, for example?”
He added: “I was using Google and Bing and there were so many results to scroll through it was really inefficient.
“So I built an algorithm that shared them and trimmed them. Then it just transformed into the idea of: 'why not just summarise news in general?’.”