Yahoo buys Summly news app from Brit teen for an estimated $30m – then closes it

summlyWhen he was 15, Brit Nick D’Aloisio had an idea for an app that summarized news articles, offering readers in a rush a quick way to catch up on the day’s events. The free app, Summly, launched for the iPhone last November and soon became a big hit, with Apple naming it one of its favorite apps of 2012.

Yesterday, it emerged that D’Aloisio, now 17, has just sold it to Yahoo for a reported $30 million (£19 million).

Now, for those who don’t have it on their iDevice, forget rushing off to the app store to check it out. Yahoo has already closed it, with the web giant planning to use the Summly’s technology in its own news-delivering apps. D’Aloisio and his team will work with Yahoo at the company’s London office to help incorporate Summly functionality into Yahoo’s mobile offerings.

Speaking to the BBC about the sale, D’Aloisio said he was “really excited” about the way Yahoo was going under the new leadership of Marissa Mayer, the woman brought in by the Yahoo board last year as it seeks to turn its business around after several years in the doldrums.

“There’s so much opportunity in taking their pre-existing assets like the newsroom they have, or weather, stocks or finance, and providing a really beautiful experience for mobile,” he said. “That’s what we’re doing with Summly – providing that beautiful user interface.”

The modest teen said selling the app for millions was “like a dream”.

“I honestly never expected any of this to happen,” he told the London Standard this week. “I started doing it as a hobby and I didn’t realise it was possible to make money out of it.”

The idea came to him when he was studying for exams a few years back. Frustrated by the inefficiency of clicking back and forth between articles on Google, he came up with the idea of offering summaries to news items.

“I realised there was all this information on the Web but it had not been ordered. That’s when I had the idea for an algorithm that would summarise the results of web searches automatically,” D’Aloisio explained.

When the app first launched in 2011 with the name Trimit, it soon picked up funding from venture capital firm Horizon Ventures, with further financing coming from the likes of Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher. The money enabled him to refine the app, which relaunched as Summly four months ago.

Despite the big payout from Yahoo, D’Aloisio has no immediate plans to go on a wild spending spree.

“I like shoes, I will buy a new pair of Nike trainers and I’ll probably get a new computer but at the moment I just want to save and bank it,” he said. He’s also still intent on going to university, though with Yahoo-related matters about to take up much of his time, it looks like he may have to postpone that for a few years.

Cars

Fisker failed. But now the EV pioneer is ready for an epic redo

Henrik Fisker has already had a career most executives can only dream about. He designed the BMZ Z8, a couple of Aston Martins, and his own Fisker Karma. But he’s got a plan to disrupt the auto industry, forged by lessons learned over the…
News

Smart speakers used primarily for music and information — and shopping

A survey of Alexa and Google Home users shows most people use their devices for core functions and had issues discovering third-party apps. A significant number of people use their device for shopping.
Computing

Microsoft’s Windows 10 Mail client goes freemium with the introduction of ads

Microsoft Windows Insiders are finding a nasty surprise inside the Mail app on the latest Windows 10 preview build in the form of banner ads. These ads will appear in the Mail app regardless of the webmail service you use.
Mobile

The 100 best Android apps turn your phone into a jack-of-all-trades

Choosing which apps to download is tricky, especially given how enormous and cluttered the Google Play Store has become. We rounded up 100 of the best Android apps and divided them neatly, with each suited for a different occasion.
Wearables

Google's Wear OS update 'H' promises battery life improvements

Google has rebranded its Android Wear operating system to Wear OS. Removing the Android name may help people better understand Google-powered smartwatches, which also play nice with iOS devices. 
Smart Home

Huawei could soon take on Google and Amazon with a new digital assistant

According to a report from CNBC, Huawei is working on a new digital assistant that could try to take on the likes of Google and Amazon's Alexa. Huawei already has a digital assistant in China, but the new one will be aimed at markets…
Mobile

Leak shows a third, budget Google Pixel 3 with a Snapdragon 670, headphone jack

The Google Pixel 3 and Pixel 3 XL are considered to be two of the best Android smartphones, but it looks like Google could be prepping a third. A budget Pixel 3 device that boasts some of the best features of the other two has been leaked.
Mobile

Use multiple phone numbers on one device with Verizon’s ‘My Numbers’ app

For those who have separate phone numbers and devices for your work and personal lives, Verizon wants to help you get more organized. With its new "My Numbers" app, you can use up to four additional phone numbers on a single smartphone.
Mobile

Need a quick battery boost? Try one of our favorite portable chargers

Battery life still tops the polls when it comes to smartphone concerns. If it’s bugging you, then maybe it’s time to snag yourself a portable charger. Here are our picks of the best portable chargers.
Mobile

Instagram tool accidentally exposes user passwords. Were you affected?

Instagram's Download Your Data tool accidentally exposed the passwords of a small number of users. Here is the explanation on what happened, and how to find out which Instagram accounts were compromised.
Mobile

New iPad Pro’s durability in question after it fails YouTuber’s bend test

The new iPad Pro models failed a bend test that was carried out by popular YouTuber JerryRigEverything. The result raises questions about the durability of the tablets, especially since customers are also reporting bending issues.
Mobile

How to use recovery mode to fix your Android phone or tablet

If you’re having a problem you can’t seem to resolve with your Android device, or maybe you want to update it or wipe the cache, recovery mode could be what you’re looking for. Here's how to use it.
Emerging Tech

Microsoft’s friendly new A.I wants to figure out what you want — before you ask

Move over Siri and Alexa! Microsoft wants to build a new type of virtual assistant that wants to be your friend. Already making waves in Asia, could this be the future of A.I. BFFs?
Emerging Tech

Awesome Tech You Can’t Buy Yet: A.I. selfie drones, ‘invisible’ wireless chargers

Check out our roundup of the best new crowdfunding projects and product announcements that hit the web this week. You may not be able to buy this stuff yet, but it sure is fun to gawk!