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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."

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Something is happening. I’ve noticed it, you may have noticed it, and it’s probably no surprise to anyone who’s ever bought an “indie” record. The corporations with a finger in this delicious pie we call the games industry have been watching what’s happened, too. They’ve been watching the achievements of the likes of Jonathan Blow, 2Dboy, Notch/Mojang and other countless successful indie developers. Now, they’re changing the way the operate. And that is in turn changing how indies operate. Indie gaming will never be the same again. Is this a bad thing?

We talked to Double Fine, Positech, Klei and others to find out. (more…)

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Much has been written about whether entrepreneurs are born or made, with no real consensus. My own opinion, which is anecdotal, is that entrepreneurs can be made — and that parents play a central role in making them. I had a remarkable epiphany while producing Lemonade Stories, a documentary film about extraordinary entrepreneurs and their mothers. [...]

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Damaged scaffolding hung from the Brooklyn Bridge on March 13 after a crane being towed behind a tugboat on the East River struck the scaffolding. Traffic across the bridge was snarled but the historic structure was undamaged. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal )


Jaynie Baker appeared with her attorney Robert C. Gottlieb in Manhattan Criminal Court on March 13 on a charge of promoting prostitution. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal )


About 30 children competed in a chess tournament at The Cloisters Museum in New York on March 11. The museum is currently displaying an exhibition ‘The Game of Kings: Medieval Ivory Chessmen from the Isle of Lewis.’ (Ramin Talaie for The Wall Street Journal)


Trent Furnace, center, of Brockport, N.Y., was among hundreds of dancers who came to audition for Pilobolus last week in Midtown. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal )


The steak au poivre at Mon Petit Café, at 801 Lexington Ave. in Manhattan. (Byron Smith for The Wall Street Journal)


Catherine Carbaja wore a costume in the gallery of the Cindy Sherman exhibit at MoMA during a cocktail reception and dance party inside the museum on March 10. (Astrid Stawiarz for The Wall Street Journal)


An Occupy member waved a U.S. flag in New Haven’s camp. The encampment, located on the New Haven Green Park, escaped eviction after a judge granted the activists a stay until March 28. New Haven is one of the last two remaining Occupy camps in New England. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Chocolate lava cake at Meat Me, at 726 Amsterdam Ave., between 95th and 96th streets in New York. (Julie Glassberg for the Wall Street Journal )


Ronald P. Grelsamer showed some of his 1960s Beatles and space program memorabilia. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal )


Armand Olivier Bell searched for a tie to pair with a bottle of Santa Margherita Pinot Grigio at Saks Fifth Avenue. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Artist Elizabeth Behl, who is known as ‘Z,’ debuted her show “Battle For Lagniappe” at 7Eleven Gallery in the West Village. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


The International Gem Tower on West 47th Street in the diamond district of Manhattan. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Lloyd Knight, a dancer with the Martha Graham Dance Company, rehearsed for the company’s performance of the 1939 comic work ‘Every Soul is a Circus,’ at the Joyce Theater in Manhattan. (Claudio Papapietro for The Wall Street Journal)


Flowers bloomed in Battery Park on March 14. (Emily Berl for The Wall Street Journal)

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"I've got hands to kiss, and babies to shake."

I absolutely, categorically do not understand what everyone has against Escape From Monkey Island. While I admit I had been horribly wrong about The Curse Of Monkey Island, everyone else is entirely wrong about the fourth game in the series, and it's time for this mad prejudice to come to an end.

And there's no better time to do this than now, because this 11-year-old game is in fact currently incredibly topical. I know of no other game thats central motif is openly mocking Rupert Murdoch and his attempts to buy everything in the world. Well, I guess we can't say that for sure. Perhaps they were spoofing some other rich Australian grump who tries to take over everything he encounters.

It is unjust - simply awful - that this game is so weirdly dismissed, even hated, by fans of Monkey Island. Because despite (and even with) the 3D this is an absolutely stunning adventure game. It's one of the funniest, most involved, and downright strange in all of LucasArts' collection, and you - yes YOU - are a fool for the way you've been pretending you don't like it for all these years.


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