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Yahoo Buys News App From British Teenager For A Reported $30 Million

Mar 26, 2013
Originally published on March 27, 2013 5:58 pm

Transcript

AUDIE CORNISH, HOST:

A British teenager has sold his mobile application to Yahoo for a reported $30 million. Seventeen-year-old Nick D'Aloisio created his app called Summly when he was only 15. As NPR's Jeff Brady reports, the teen will now go to work for Yahoo.

JEFF BRADY, BYLINE: When Yahoo was founded in 1995, Nick D'Aloisio wasn't even born yet. He says he taught himself to program computers using books and video tutorials. In an advertisement for the launch of his application, D'Aloisio says he was looking for a way to skim through the oceans of news articles on the Internet.

NICK D'ALOISIO: So I started a company called Summly. You tell it your interests and it shows you summarized content. But instead of just a headline, Summly gives you 400 characters. That's more than a tweet, but less than a full article.

BRADY: It's a simple concept, but one that attracted loyal advocates. Speaking on CNN, D'Aloisio says he originally created the app under a different name.

D'ALOISIO: So I released a demo of the application when I was 15 years old and it was called Trimit. And I've been told that the investors read about this on a few technology blogs and it was actually featured by Apple as one of their apps of the week.

BRADY: D'Aloisio says investors flew to London to meet him and committed $300,000 to the project. In November, Summly launched its iPhone application. The company says a half million people downloaded it in the first month. On Monday, Yahoo announced it was buying Summly. Yahoo will shut down the application and incorporate it into the company's products. D'Aloisio and two of his colleagues will become Yahoo employees.

D'ALOISIO: I'll be focusing on other projects kind of on the side as well as completing my A-level exams.

BRADY: Those are the tests D'Aloisio will take to get into college. That's right. He's developed a company, attracted investment and sold the whole thing for millions even before entering college. Kara Swisher is executive editor at All Things Digital. She says Yahoo is buying more than D'Aloisio's app.

KARA SWISHER: He brings, you know, a great story. If you notice, there are about 20 stories about, you know, Yahoo boy genius kind of thing. He's very good at getting good PR. He's a lovely kid. Very smart.

BRADY: Swisher says in Yahoo's announcement, the company focused on that and didn't reveal how much it will pay for Summly. Swisher pressed her industry sources for that information.

SWISHER: It was $30 million. It's mostly in cash, 90 percent in cash and 10 percent in stock.

BRADY: The positive media coverage comes at a good time for Yahoo. CEO Marissa Mayer was widely criticized recently for a decision to end the practice of employees working at home. Swisher says this narrative plays right into Mayer's effort to transition Yahoo from desktop computers.

SWISHER: It sort of gets people thinking about Yahoo as a mobile company, even though they've been really a laggard in that area for many, many years.

BRADY: This is the latest in a string of acquisitions Yahoo has announced as Mayer tries to overhaul the company. The news prompted investors to bid up Yahoo's stock a few percent. The company says it expects to complete its purchase of Summly within a few months. Jeff Brady, NPR News.

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CORNISH: I'm Audie Cornish. And you're listening to ALL THINGS CONSIDERED from NPR News. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.