Just a few years ago, Nick D’Aloisio was your average British teenager focused on revising for his upcoming history exam. Dealing with the frustration of piecing together bits of information from various websites and sources, D’Aloisio began thinking of a new service that could summarize news and articles into brief summaries around 400 characters or less.
After several months of programming and development, using his bedside computer, D’Aloisio turned his simple idea into a reality with an iTunes app called Trimit. In its early goings, the app had difficulties in gaining traction within the community. It’s common for indie developers to face difficulties gaining exposure; but, then, there was a spark.
But, before I explain that spark, Gizmodo writer Casey Chan once shared a series of emails in which D’Aloisio flat out whined and begged for press coverage of his app. While his etiquette might not have been perfect at the time — somewhat unsurprising, considering he was only fifteen — D’Aloisio’s perseverance most definitely paid off. Just yesterday, D’Aloisio sold his app, since renamed to Summly, to Yahoo for a reported $30 million.
So how exactly did a simple bedroom startup app become a multimillion dollar service? Thanks to a team of investors, beginning with $250,000 in funding from Horizon Ventures. The venture capital firm, along with a number of other investors, helped to improve the app and spark publicity for it.
Per the Canadian publication The Globe and Mail:
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.
Summly launched on iPhone just four months ago, amassing close to one million downloads in that time. Yahoo’s decision to purchase the app for such a hefty price is quite interesting, considering that the app does not yet have a monetization scheme in place. Following the acquisition by Yahoo, the app was removed from iTunes yesterday.
In addition to the huge payout, D’Aloisio will also become an employee of Yahoo, working remotely from his home in London. At just seventeen years of age, D’Aloisio will become the youngest employee at the massive corporation. D’Aloisio said that he plans to invest at least a portion of the money he has received towards improving Summly even further.
“It’s not the money that’s made me do this deal,” he said, “but the opportunity to build a big platform in technology and that’s what, as an entrepreneur, is so exciting. As a founder of a company you want to still have the leadership vision and I want to bring my technology here and Yahoo is hiring people. It’s a good time to go to this company, when they’re trying to grow and rejuvenate. That’s what excited me.”