Meet the 17-Year-Old Who Sold His News App for RM90,000,000

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The moment you look at his picture, you realize that he is a kid, but British Citizen Nick D’Aloisio is not just any other kid. With Yahoo buying his app, Summly, for a whopping $30 million (~RM 90,000,000), this 17-year-old has officially earned his seat at the millionaire whiz kids’ table. The kid – yet to finish school – had been jet-setting between the US and UK the last few months to meet investors and possibly strike a deal. Following the deal with Yahoo, he has been featured in the front page of the prestigious New York Times.

D’Aloisio was not even on Facebook until recently but his latest activity after joining the social media community has been to Like Apple and Yahoo Facebook Pages. In fact, it was Apple which had first featured the prototype of Summly among its curated apps of the week. It was one among the reasons that the app got written about in technology blogs and investors started showing interest in it.

How Did It All Start?

It was a regular day for D’Aloisio who was studying for his history exams in the United Kingdom roughly 2 years ago. He was scouting through Google to prepare for the exam and found that there was a lot of information scattered throughout. He found it tough to evaluate what to read and what not to. The solution this bright youngster came up with was the incredible Summly. What Summly does is summarize news articles for readers. The relevance of summaries is that they allow users to quickly decide if the story is of use to them. Summly creates snippets of full-size articles and presents them to users on their smartphones.

The early version of the app was called Trimit, which ran on an algorithm that brought down articles to about 400 characters. The Hong Kong billionaire, Li Ka-shing, was among the first who had recognized the importance of the app and invested $250,000 in it. The recognition by Apple and investment by Ka-shing led a herd of celebrity investors towards D’Aloisio, like News Corp’s Murdoch, British broadcaster Stephen Fry, Hollywood star Ashton Kutcher, and the famous widow of The Beetle’s member John Lennon, Ono.

All the attention that Summly got from these investors gave it a fantastic launch in November 2012 and the app was downloaded close to 1 million times. Including Wall Street Journal of News Corp, D’Aloisio has worked with about 250 content publishers so far. Being employed by Yahoo is going to give him a chance to work with even more publishers. However, it seems the app Yahoo is discontinuing the Summly app and using the technology for other purposes.

The Early Days

D’Aloisio had learnt coding at the age of 12 once App Store by Apple was launched. He had created many apps, one of which was Facemood, which could analyze sentiments and tell the moods of Facebook users. SongStumblr was another app he had developed, which provided a music discovery service.

The Future

His age and the huge paycheck have given him a lot of publicity, but D’Aloisio says he will not get sucked into it. The young boy realizes he still has a year to finish his high school and has to have enough time to meet up with friends and play some cricket before he gets full-time into the world of algorithms and programs. While finishing his diploma, he will simultaneously be working at the London office of Yahoo.


Watch the video of Nick D’Aloisio and Stephen Fry Introducing Summly:

Are we entering a world where anyone can become wildly successful creator?  Post your comments below.

Photo credit: LeWEB12 / / CC BY



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