17 year old whiz kid sells his company Summly to Yahoo and gets $30M...
A 17-year-old British whiz kid’s startup jackpot — a reported $30 million Yahoo acquisition of his Summly app — is just the latest Internet bonanza inspiring young entrepreneurs to go for broke with their own business concepts, the world’s largest startup accelerator said yesterday.
“We will hold that as an example of anything is possible with great ideas,” said Akhil Nigam, founder and president of Boston-based MassChallenge. “Every startup has their own path. It’s less to do with age. It’s more a matter of when you get the right idea, and the right people to work on that idea, and what is possible with that idea.”
U.K.-based Nick D’Aloisio — though still in high school — will join Yahoo’s mobile team and “play a key role in building and delivering our summarization efforts,” a spokeswoman for the Silicon Valley Web content provider said. Two other Summly executives will join Yahoo’s personalization and engineering teams in Sunnyvale, Calif.
Summly allows users to browse news quickly through concise summaries of online content. Yahoo would not comment on financial terms of the deal yesterday.
MassChallenge, which has seen its applicant roster rise “three-fold” in the past three years, said the Summly deal is atypical — don’t expect your average tech-savvy 17-year-old to be cashing in like that soon — but mobile and digital entrepreneurs are getting younger as they have better product sense than their counterparts and do not need significant cash flow to start a company.
“It’s not like 50 percent of the population is doing this, but the number of people who have been doing this has been increasing every year,” Nigam said.
D’Aloisio launched Summly in December 2011 when he was 15. Highlighted as one of Forbes’ 30 under 30, D’Aloisio is still attending high school at King’s College School.
“I would never have imagined being in this position so suddenly,” D’Aloisio wrote on Summly’s website, giving a special shout-out to Hong Kong business magnate Li Ka-Shing and venture capital firm Horizon Ventures for “having the foresight to back a teenager pursuing his dream.”
Summly’s other angel investors and advisers include actor Ashton Kutcher, musician and artist Yoko Ono and Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus. A company bio said D’Aloisio taught himself to code at age 12 and created several apps prior to Summly, including Facemood, a service which “used sentiment analysis to determine the mood of Facebook users.”
D’Aloisio said yesterday Summly would be removed from the iTunes App Store, but the company’s summarization technology would return in multiple Yahoo products.
“See this as a ‘power nap’ so to speak,” he wrote. “With over 90 million summaries read in just a few short months, this is just the beginning for our technology.”