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3/26/2013
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Yahoo Acquires Summly From U.K. Teen

In deal reported to be worth $30 million, 17-year-old mobile app developer Nick D'Aloisio will join Yahoo's London staff while he continues his secondary education.

Yahoo will acquire Summly, an app company started by a teenager in his London bedroom, the companies announced Monday. The price of the deal was not confirmed, but multiple news reports say Yahoo will pay $30 million (£20 million) for it. Not a bad payday for a lad who hasn't even finished his A-levels (the courses that U.K. teens take to qualify to go to college).

"I am delighted to announce [we have] signed an agreement to be acquired by Yahoo," the 17-year-old entrepreneur in question, Nick D'Aloisio, wrote Tuesday on Summly's home page. The app will now be removed from sale, as D'Aloisio takes a job at Yahoo's U.K. offices -- though he will still do his A-levels, at night school.

What's he going to spend the money on? D'Aloisio told London newspaper The Evening Standard Monday, "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." (It seems he can't really do more: His multi-million-pound check will have to go into a trust fund until he is older.)

The sale price is not being officially disclosed by either Yahoo or D'Aloisio. But the BBC says it understands it is "dozens of millions" of pounds, and U.S. news sources say the figure is indeed a cool $30 million. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions, says Yahoo, and is expected to close in the second quarter.

[ Can game developers still make bank on Facebook? See GDC: Aging Facebook Loses Gaming Luster. ]

Summly is an app, developed when D'Aloisio was 15 years old, that summarizes news stories for mobile Internet users. D'Aloisio claims 90 million such summaries have been read in "just a few short months" and the app has been such a hit with Apple users that it won Apple's Best Apps of 2012 award for intuitive touch.

Of the deal, D'Aloisio said, "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."

Yahoo senior VP of mobile and emerging products Adam Cahan said in a blog post that mobile devices are shifting our daily routines, and users have changed not only what, but how much information they consume. However, "most articles and Web pages" were formatted for browsing with mouse clicks and "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," Cahan said.

Yahoo plans to include Summly's technology in Yahoo's mobile portfolio. Specifically, Cahan said Summly will "come to life throughout Yahoo's mobile experiences soon."

The young startup had already managed to attract £1 million ($1.5 million) worth of VC funding. But the size of the Yahoo payout has certainly attracted interest and quite a lot of online comment, with the general consensus being that this was a bold move to make Yahoo "cool" again.

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