Yahoo buys Summly, makes teen a multimillionaire

Reuters, SAN FRANCISCO and LONDON

Wed, Mar 27, 2013 - Page 15

Yahoo Inc has snapped up mobile news aggregator Summly, the latest in a string of small acquisitions intended to bolster the Web portal’s mobile services.

Summly, founded by 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio two years ago from his home in London, sorts news by topics in quick bites for smartphones. The start-up works closely with News Corp and is backed by Chinese investor Li Ka-shing (李嘉誠) and angel investors, including actor Ashton Kutcher and artist Yoko Ono.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, although technology blog AllThingsD reported that Yahoo paid about US$30 million, citing anonymous sources.

D’Aloisio said Yahoo would use the technology that powers Summly to reinvent the delivery of information such as news, weather, stocks and finance for mobile devices.

“What I am excited about with Yahoo is under the new leadership of Marissa Mayer, it’s a classic Internet company that has such a big opportunity,” D’Aloisio said.

Yahoo said it would shut down the Summly app, but integrate the company’s natural language processing and machine-learning technology across Yahoo’s various online services, particularly Yahoo’s lineup of mobile services.

Yahoo chief executive Mayer is stepping up the company’s efforts to build online services for the smartphones and tablets that consumers increasingly use to access the Web. Yahoo has acquired a handful of small, mobile start-ups since Mayer took over in July last year, though the company has yet to do any large acquisitions.

Three Summly employees will join Yahoo as part of the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter, Yahoo senior vice president of Mobile and Emerging Products Adam Cahan said.

Summly founder D’Aloisio will remain in London and be Yahoo’s youngest employee, Cahan said.

D’Aloisio, a pupil at King’s College School, said he was unperturbed about moving from a start-up to multinational.

“I’m looking forward to it because they’ve built a really great environment for start-ups and founders,” he said.

He said he planned to invest his multimillion pound windfall, although he added that due to his age, he “could not really touch it” yet.

Yahoo shares rose US$0.19 to US$23.45 on Monday afternoon.