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Teen's app grabbed by Yahoo for millions

Brian Stelter, Mar 26, 2013, NYT:

Wunderkind

Nick D'Aloisio

One of Yahoo’s newest employees is a 17-year-old high school student in Britain. As of Monday, he is one of its richest, too.

That student, Nick D’Aloisio, a programming whiz who wasn’t even born when Yahoo was founded in 1994, sold his news-reading app, Summly, to Yahoo on Monday for a sum said to be in the tens of millions of dollars.

Yahoo said it would incorporate his algorithmic invention, which takes long-form stories and shortens them for readers using smartphones, in its own mobile apps, with D’Aloisio’s help.

“I’ve still got a year and a half left at my high school,” he said in a telephone interview on Monday. But he will make arrangements to test out of his classes and work from the Yahoo office in London, partly to abide by the company’s new and much-debated policy that prohibits working from home.

D’Aloisio, a cricket fan, who declined to comment on the price paid by Yahoo (the technology-oriented website AllThingsD pegged the purchase price at about $30 million), was Summly’s largest shareholder.

Summly’s other investors, improbably enough, included Wendi Murdoch, Ashton Kutcher and Yoko Ono. The most important one was Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong billionaire. “They took a gamble on me when I was a 15-year-old,” D’Aloisio said, by providing seed financing that let him hire employees and lease office space.

For teen entrepreneurs—and their parents, too—the news of the sale conjured up some feelings of inadequacy, but also awe. For Brian Wong, the 21-year-old founder of Kiip, a mobile rewards company, the reaction was downright laughable, “I feel old!”

A few years ago, Wong was the youngest person ever to receive venture capital funding.


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