Yahoo announced Monday that it has acquired the mobile news aggregator, Summly, founded in late 2011 by Nick D'Aloisio of Wimbledon, South London, at the age of 15.
According to AllThingsD's Kara Swisher, Yahoo paid "just about $30 million for Summly."
Summly is an iPhone app that allows users to find news quickly by creating and aggregating summarized versions of articles from diverse news sources. It uses artificial intelligence and natural language processing to shorten long articles and fit them into a single smartphone screen.
Mashable explains that the app also allows users to separate news into customizable categories.
According to The New York Times, D'Aloisio sold his app to Yahoo on Monday. Yahoo said that Summly would be shut down and its algorithm will soon be incorporated into its mobile apps. Yahoo said in a statement: "We will acquire the technology and you’ll see it come to life throughout Yahoo’s mobile experiences soon."
The Guardian reports that D'Aloisio will not be moving to the company's California headquarters yet. He plans to complete his A-levels first. According to The Guardian, he said: "I'll be staying in London. I want to finish my A-levels, and I couldn't really live on my own out there."
Summly's team will be joining Yahoo as employees after Summly ceases operation.
D'Aloisio raised his first seed funding of $300,000 for Summly in September 2011, from Li Ka-shing's Horizon Ventures and then a second $1.23 million a year later from diverse sources, including Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono and Wendy Murdoch, Mashable reports.
Summly, officially launched in November 2012, won an Apple best apps award in 2012. According to Mashable, D'Aloisio says more than 90 million summaries have been read through his app since its launch in 2012.
The publicity after it won the Apple award in 2012 brought the app to the attention of investors, including the Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing whose venture capital firm, Horizon Ventures, was the the first investor. The New York Times reports that Li Ka-Shing's fund read about D'Aloisio's app on TechCrunch and sent a message expressing interest.
External investors helped to bring in a team of managers, technicians and PR experts, and soon the venture was negotiating with Yahoo and other interested parties.
According to The New York Times, D'Aloisio, speaking about his plans, said, "I've still got a year and a half left at my high school." He said he would make arrangements to combine his school work with his new job with Yahoo. He will be working at the Yahoo office in London because of Yahoo's recent policy change that prohibits working from home.
D'Aloisio is the youngest person ever to receive venture capital funding. He is also possibly one of the world's youngest self-made multi-millionaires.
He told the UK's Evening Standard about his immediate spending plans: "I like shoes, I will buy a new pair of Nike trainers and I'll probably get a new computer, but at the moment I just want to save and bank it. I don't have many living expenses."
The New York Times notes that he appears unwilling to acknowledge that his age helped to attract early investors and promoted the success of his product. He prefers, instead, to emphasize that the "strength of the idea" was the key factor in his success.
He also said that he chose to sell to Yahoo because the company's goals make them a perfect fit. Yahoo is seeking to re-invent itself as a mobile technology company in response to the growing use of smartphones to access the Internet. Yahoo's move is part of an ongoing rush by media companies to position themselves to exploit the fast-growing mobile devices market. The company has recently made a number of mobile-based acquisitions, The Huffington Post reports.
D'Aloisio's mother is a lawyer and his father works at Morgan Stanley. Both admit they have no special knowledge of technology. However, they noticed their son's interest in technology and encouraged him when he began coding at the age of 12.
According to The Guardian, his mother, Diana, appeared stunned by the developments. She said: "I knew he was a little out of the box, but I didn't expect it to happen all of a sudden like this. From a young age he displayed abilities in technologies I frankly didn't understand. He was doing 3D programming, and we bought him a book called C Programming For Dummies. My husband and I just used our computers for work, he was doing totally different stuff."
However, some analysts have criticized the reported eight-figure sum for Summly, suggesting that Yahoo was only trying to attract attention to itself through speculative prices.