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Original author: 
Nicholas Carlson

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Yesterday, Yahoo announced it bought a startup called Summly.

Summly made a news aggregation app.

According to All Things D, Yahoo paid $30 million — 90 percent cash.

$30 million isn't much for Yahoo, which has more than $4 billion in cash (and access to much more).

But there are some elements to this deal that make even that small price seem strange.

Summly never really set the world on fire. It had fewer than one million downloads. Yahoo is shutting Summly down.

So basically, Yahoo is acquiring Summly's talent.

Summly's talent is  founder Nick D'Aloisio and two other people. Yahoo is saying D'Aloisio's is to lead Yahoo more boldly into the world of mobile. 

A source tells All Things D his job is to "be a great person to put in front of the media and consumers with Mayer to make Yahoo seem like it is a place that loves both entrepreneurs and mobile experiences."

But D'Aloisio lives in London, which is 10,000 miles away from Yahoo's Sunnyvale, California headquarters.

Also, D'Aloisio is 17 years old.

He still has to finish high school.

Last year, gadget blog Gizmodo made him cry when it wouldn't write about Summly. 

He's supposed to lead grown-up engineers?

Finally, according to All Things D, D'Aloisio is only required to work at Yahoo for the next 18 months.

He's already talking about getting into angel investing.

Again …Yahoo has $4 billion, and maybe throwing $30 million at a 17-year-old in hopes of seeming cool with the kids is a fine use of 0.75 percent of that money, or 0.12 percent of Yahoo's market cap.  

Maybe it'll help Yahoo get the right kind of press, and show other entrepreneurs like D'Aloisio that Yahoo is a decent place to land.

Maybe it'll make Yahoo seem cutting edge to consumers.

Certainly it's a cheaper marketing stunt than a horrible ad campaign like "It's Y!ou," which is how ex-Yahoo CEO Carol Bartz tried to accomplish the same goal.

SEE ALSO: Summly's 17-Year-Old Founder Has A Girlfriend, And Here's What She Thinks Of His $30 Million Acquisition

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Original author: 
Reuters

Summly CEO Nick D'Alisio

LONDON, March 25 (Reuters) - Got a tech idea and want to make a fortune before you're out of your teens? Just do it, is the advice of the London schoolboy who's just sold his smartphone news app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million.

The money is there, just waiting for clever new moves, said 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio, who can point to a roster of early backers for his Summly app that includes Yoko Ono and Rupert Murdoch.

"If you have a good idea, or you think there's a gap in the market, just go out and launch it because there are investors across the world right now looking for companies to invest in," he told Reuters in a telephone interview late on Monday.

The terms of the sale, four months after Summly was launched for the iPhone, have not been disclosed and D'Aloisio, who is still studying for school exams while joining Yahoo as its youngest employee, was not saying. But technology blog AllThingsD said Yahoo paid roughly $30 million.

D'Aloisio said he was the majority owner of Summly and would now invest the money from the sale, though his age imposes legal limits for now on his access to it.

"I'm happy with that and working with my parents to go through that whole process," he said.

D'Aloisio, who lives in the prosperous London suburb of Wimbledon, highlights the support of family and school, which gave him time off, but also, critically, the ideas that came with enthusiastic financial backers.

He had first dreamt up the mobile software while revising for a history exam two years ago, going on to create a prototype of the app that distils news stories into chunks of text readable on small smartphone screens.

He was inspired, he said, by the frustrating experience of trawling through Google searches and separate websites to find information when revising for the test.

Trimit was an early version of the app, which is powered by an algorithm that automatically boils down articles to about 400 characters. It caught the eye of Horizons Ventures, a venture capital firm owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, which put in $250,000.

That investment attracted other celebrity backers, among them Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, British broadcaster Stephen Fry, artist Ono, the widow of Beatle John Lennon, and News Corp media mogul Murdoch.

That all added up to maximum publicity when Summly launched in November 2012, but the backers brought more than just cash for an app that has been downloaded close to a million times.

"It's been super-exciting, (the investors) found out about it in 2012 once the original investment from Li Ka-shing had gone public," said D'Aloisio. "They all believed in the idea, but they all offered different experiences to help us out."

His business has worked with around 250 content publishers, he said, such as News Corp's Wall Street Journal. People reading the summaries can easily click through to the full article, driving traffic to newspaper websites.

"The great deal about joining Yahoo is that they have a lot of publishers, they have deals with who we can work with now," D'Aloisio said.

He taught himself to code at age 12 after Apple's App Store was launched, creating several apps including Facemood, a service which analysed sentiment to determine the moods of Facebook users, and music discovery service SongStumblr.

He has started A-levels - English final school exams - in maths, physics and philosophy, and plans to continue his studies while also working at Yahoo's offices in London. He aims to go to university to study humanities.

Although he has created an app worth millions, D'Aloisio says he is not a stereotyped computer geek.

"I like playing sport," he said. "I'm a bit of a design enthusiast, and like spending time with my girlfriend and mates."

Copyright (2013) Thomson Reuters. Click for restrictions

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Original author: 
Kara Swisher

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Earlier today, Yahoo said it had acquired the trendy and decidedly stylish news reading app Summly, along with its telegenic and very young entrepreneur Nick D’Aloisio.

Yahoo said it plans to close down the actual app and use the algorithmic summation technology that the 17-year-old D’Aloisio built with a small team of five, along with a major assist from Silicon Valley research institute SRI International, throughout its products.

While Yahoo did not disclose the price, several sources told me that the company paid $30 million — 90 percent in cash and 10 percent in stock — to buy the London-based Apple smartphone app.

And despite its elegant delivery, that’s a very high price, especially since Summly has been downloaded slightly less than one million times since launch — after a quick start amid much publicity over its founder — with about 90 million “summaries” read. Of course, like many such apps, it also had no monetization plan as yet.

What Yahoo is getting, though, is perhaps more valuable — the ability to put the fresh-faced D’Aloisio front and center of its noisy efforts to make consumers see Yahoo as a mobile-first company. That has been the goal of CEO Marissa Mayer, who has bought up a range of small mobile startups since she took over nine months ago and who has talked about the need for Yahoo to focus on the mobile arena above all.

Mayer met with D’Aloisio, said sources, although the deal was struck by voluble M&A head Jackie Reses.

Said one person close to the deal, about the founder: “Nick will be a great person to put in front of the media and consumers with Mayer to make Yahoo seem like it is a place that loves both entrepreneurs and mobile experiences, which in turn will presumably attract others like him.”

Having met the young man in question, who was in San Francisco in the fall on a fundraising trip, I can see the appeal. He’s both well-spoken and adorkable, as well as very adept at charming cranky media types like me by radiating with the kinetic energy of someone born in the mobile world (you can see that in full force in the video below with actor and Summly investor Stephen Fry).

Still, D’Aloisio is very young and presumably has a lot of other entrepreneurial goals and that’s why he agreed as part of the deal to only officially stay 18 months at Yahoo, multiple sources told me. In many cases, startup founders strike such short-term employment deals with big companies, agreeing to stay for a certain determined time period.

He will also remain in England, where he lives with his parents, said sources. In addition, only two of Summly’s employees will go to Yahoo with D’Aloisio.

That’s $10 million each, along with a nifty app Yahoo will not be using as is (too bad, as it would up the hip and fun factor of Yahoo’s apps by a factor of a gazillion if it were maintained).

“It works out on a lot of levels,” said another person close to the situation. “Nick is a founder that will make Mayer and Yahoo look cutting edge.”

Cue the parade of PR profiles of the young genius made millionaire, helping Yahoo become relevant again.

I have an email for comment into the always friendly D’Aloisio. But I don’t expect a reply, since he has apparently been specifically instructed by the martinets of Yahoo PR not to talk to me any longer — well, for 18 months at least! (Don’t worry, Nick, I don’t blame you and will still listen to whatever you are pitching next, since you are so dang compelling and I enjoyed using Summly!)

Until then, here’s the faboo Summly video, with the best chairs ever:

Summly Launch from Summly on Vimeo.

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Original author: 
Jay Yarow

Nick SummlyYahoo announced today that it has acquired Summly, a mobile news aggregation app from British entrepenuer Nick D'Aloisio.

D'Aloisio is only 17-years-old. When he started Summly, he was only 15.

Summly scans the Web for news and uses an algorithm to find the type of content you want to read. Then it summarizes it for you.

Yahoo is going to shut down Summly as a stand alone app, but it says it's going to incorporate Summly technology into its own mobile apps and sites.

Clearly, Yahoo CEO Marissa Mayer wanted to hire D'Aloisio. She has been making a lot of small acquisitions like Summly. She wants to bring young, fresh, mobile-focused talent to Yahoo. 

There was no price announced with the deal. However, All Things D reporter Kara Swisher says Yahoo paid just under $30 million. The app generated no revenue.

According to Crunchbase, Summly has raised $1.53 million in venture funding from an impressive list of investors.

summlyHong Kong billionaire businessman Li Ka-shing put $300,000 in the company in September of 2011. A year later, the rest of the money came from people like Brian Chesky, the CEO and founder of AirBnb, Mark Pincus, the founder and CEO of Zynga, Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono, Wendy Murdoch, and a few other big names in tech.

When Steve Jobs opened the iPhone's App Store, Nick D'Aloisio was only 12-years-old.

D'Aloisio taught himself how to make an app. Three years later he launched his own startup, Trimit, which truncated a news story into 140 characters for people that wanted to tweet out stories.

He realized people didn't want to truncate the news. They wanted the news truncated for them. So, he flipped the app and made Summly.

Previously it was reported Summly only had 500,000 downloads, which is not much for an app. D'Aloisio says Summly has had "90 million summaries read," whatever that metric means.

Here's the release from Yahoo announcing the deal:

Today, we’re excited to share that we’re acquiring Summly, a mobile product company founded with a vision to simplify the way we get information, making it faster, easier and more concise.

At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio created the Summly app at his home in London. It started with an insight -- that we live in a world of constant information and need new ways to simplify how we find the stories that are important to us, at a glance. Mobile devices are shifting our daily routines, and users have changed not only what, but how much information they consume. Yet most articles and web pages were formatted for browsing with mouse clicks. The ability to skim them on a phone or a tablet can be a real challenge -- we want easier ways to identify what’s important to us.

Summly solves this by delivering snapshots of stories, giving you a simple and elegant way to find the news you want, faster than ever before. For publishers, the Summly technology provides a new approach to drive interest in stories and reach a generation of mobile users that want information on the go.

Nick and the Summly team are joining Yahoo! in the coming weeks. While the Summly app will close, you will see the technology come to life throughout Yahoo!’s mobile experiences soon. So stay tuned!

Mobile devices are at the center of how we engage with the people, experiences and interests we love. Across Yahoo!, we’re focused on creating beautiful experiences that people are excited to use every day -- products that inspire and delight. We can’t wait to work with Nick and the Summly team to do just that.

And here's Summly's announcement:

In true Summly fashion, I will keep this short and sweet.

I am delighted to announce Summly has signed an agreement to be acquired by Yahoo!. Our vision is to simplify how we get information and we are thrilled to continue this mission with Yahoo!'s global scale and expertise. After spending some time on campus, I discovered that Yahoo! has an inspirational goal to make people's daily routines entertaining and meaningful, and mobile will be a central part of that vision. For us, it's the perfect fit.

When I founded Summly at 15, I would have never imagined being in this position so suddenly. I'd personally like to thank Li Ka-Shing and Horizons Ventures for having the foresight to back a teenager pursuing his dream. Also to our investors, advisors and of course the fantastic team for believing in the potential of Summly. Without you all, this never would have been possible. I'd also like to thank my family, friends and school for supporting me.

Most importantly, thank you to our wonderful users who have helped contribute to us receiving Apple's Best Apps of 2012 award for Intuitive Touch! We will be removing Summly from the App Store today but expect our summarization technology will soon return to multiple Yahoo! products - see this as a ‘power nap' so to speak.

With over 90 million summaries read in just a few short months, this is just the beginning for our technology. As we move towards a more refined, liberated and intelligent mobile web, summaries will continue to help navigate through our ever expanding information universe.

Sincerely,

Nick
Founder

Here's a demo video of Summly, which helped launch it:

Now Watch: How This Young Entrepreneur Struck Gold After Failing 15 Times

SEE ALSO: Why Physical Retail Stores Are Not Going To Die — At Least Not Until 2020

SEE ALSO: The Science Behind What Makes Something Go Viral

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20130318-21292075--markus-spiering_large

For a long time, the photo sharing service Flickr felt like an abandoned product. It was well-loved in its younger, more innovative days, when co-founder Caterina Fake made it a point to comment on every image that was uploaded. But once it was bought by Yahoo, Flickr sort of froze; and by doing so, it allowed its users to be lured away by Instagram, Facebook, and even Google+. However, the service has started to come alive again, with more than eight billion photos from more than 87 million users, more than 3.5 million new images uploaded daily, and a refresh of the mobile apps which led to a significant boost in traffic.

The beginnings of Flickr’s comeback happened after a photographer from Radebeul, Germany, Markus Spiering (@...

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magnifying glassLast year, Facebook started running ads that used your Web surfing history to target you. Soon they’ll be a little more obvious about the fact that they’re doing it.

But not a lot more obvious.

After months of discussion with the Council of Better Business Bureaus, Facebook is going to start incorporating a small triangular “AdChoices” logo on some of the ads where it uses “retargeting” — the common Web practice of serving ads to surfers based on the sites they’ve already visited.

If you have a sharp eye, you may have seen the triangle on lots of other Web sites, including those run by Yahoo and Google. That’s the result of a self-policing move Web publishers made a couple years ago, in an attempt to keep privacy watchdogs and Federal regulators off their backs.

Here’s what it looks like, for instance, on an ad running on Yahoo’s home page today.

yahoo adchoices

In theory, when you see one of the triangles, you can click on it and learn more about a given Web publisher’s targeting practices. And then you can opt out of them if you want (here’s what happens if you click on Yahoo’s triangle).

In practice, I find it hard to believe most consumers notice the icons at all (that text looks a whole lot smaller when it’s side by side with everything else competing for your attention on a Web page). Or that they’ll understand the language they’ll encounter if they do click on them (“The Web sites you visit work with online advertising companies to provide you with advertising that is as relevant and useful as possible,” etc.)

In any case, Facebook is going to start using the same icons for some of the ads it serves up on the right side of its home page, where it has begun selling retargeted ads through its Facebook Exchange program.

Except you won’t see them unless you look for them, by hovering your mouse over the ad and clicking on the grey “x” that appears when you do. And Facebook doesn’t plan on using them on all of its retargeted ads — a Facebook rep says the company will only do so when its advertisers or ad tech partners choose to use them.

If that doesn’t sound like a lot, it’s at least an improvement over the current set-up. Right now, the only way you can learn that you’re seeing a retargeted ad is if you mouse over the ad, click the grey “x” and then click on the “About this ad” option.

If it turns out you’re seeing a retargeted ad, you’ll see a page that may or may not explain what you’re looking at. Here’s one I found today, from retargeter Chango, after clicking on a Dish Network ad.

If you care and know about this stuff, you’ll understand what you’re looking at. If not …

Which brings us back to the eternal “who does care about this stuff” question.

As The Wall Street Journal has documented via its excellent “What They Know” reports, the Web ad guys know a ton about you (so do the offline ad guys). And if you tell a normal person about it, they’ll get a little creeped out. They’ll also tell you that they think privacy is really, really important to them.

But in practice, this doesn’t seem to be an issue that galvanizes regular folks. And it has yet to find a powerful political ally — you didn’t see anyone running on the “I took on the cookie people” platform last fall.

Maybe that will change, and Facebook and its peers will have to be a lot more obvious about this stuff — or even ask consumers for permission before they go about doing it.

But for now, this seems like it will be enough.

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