Dreams come true on web. Initially, it took shape in virtual reality and transformed his real world forever. It has happened with so many – Sabeer Bhatia, Mark Zuckerberg, Jack Dorsey and so on -- in yesteryears; and hopefully, it will happen with many others in future. He created his news summarisation app (Summly) when he was 15 years old and now, just two years later, Nick D'Alosio is a millionaire after Yahoo buys the technology.
In November, Yahoo boss Marissa Mayer said the internet giant would start focusing more on mobile strategy particularly on news, sports and apps. Summly is an attractive buy for Yahoo as Mayer revs up her search for apps to bolster the company's presence in the mobile area.
"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.
Business Standard delves deep into virtual world to unravel 10 facts about Summly as well as D'Alosio
1) He is a programming wizard who wasn’t even born when Yahoo was founded in 1994. The Silicon Valley giant says it will incorporate his algorithmic invention, which takes long-form stories and shortens them for readers using smartphones, in its own mobile apps, with D’Aloisio’s help.
2) The London schoolboy sold his smartphone news app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million. Summly is an iOS (iPhone + iPod Touch) app that offered up short summaries of news stories for reading on the go. In a nutshell, it condenses news articles into three key paragraphs that fit onto an iPhone screen. Users can customise the news categories and link to the original article if they like the summary.
3) Explaining how his app differs to current digital news services, D'Aloisio said: "It's coherent and not like with some of these news services where they extract the first sentence or two sentences and put dot, dot, dot, at the end of that paragraph.
4) D'Aloisio started the firm when he was 15 and quickly attracted investors, including Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing and Hollywood stars Ashton Kutcher and Stephen Fry. The whiz is one of the youngest people ever to attract venture capital funding. His mother, a full-time lawyer, became a director and owns shares on his behalf.
6) In an announcement posted at Summly, D’Aloisio writes, “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.”
7) 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 distills news stories into chunks of text readable on small smartphone screens. D'Aloisio intends to finish his education and go to university - but he also wants to remain involved in the company.
8) D'Aloisio's app started out as Trimit, 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
9) 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.
10) Some early reviewers have described the app as "confusing". "Navigation unclear," wrote Oliver Devereux on the app store's review page, while another described it as "quite unintuitive". But it is still rating an average score of four out of five possible stars from users overall.
Other self-made teenage millionaires
Catherine and David Cook (start-up ages: 15, 17)
In 2005 the siblings launched a site for people to create interactive year books. Over 950,000 joined in the first year and the company's networth now exceeds $10million.
Juliette Brindak (start-up age 10)
Miss O is a site for girls between 8-12 years old. Since launching the site, Brindak has also released a book which sold 120,000 copies. The site's net worth is now in excess of $15 million.
Sean Belnick (start-up age 14)
Launched in 2001 thanks to a $500 investment from his step-father, the business was run out of Sean's bedroom. By 2009 the company's revenue reached $43.9 million and he is worth an estimated $42 million.