One of Yahoo's newest employees is a 17-year-old high school student in Britain. As of Monday, he is one of its richest, too.
That student, Nick D'Aloisio, a programming whiz who wasn't even born when Yahoo was founded in 1994, sold his news-reading app, Summly, to the company on Monday for a sum said to be in the tens of millions of dollars. Yahoo said it would 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.
"I've still got a year and a half left at my high school," he said in an interview on Monday. But he will make arrangements to test out of his classes and work from the Yahoo office in London, to abide by the firm's much-debated policy that prohibits working from home.
D'Aloisio, who declined to comment on the price paid by Yahoo (the technology news site AllThingsD pegged the purchase price at about $30 million), was Summly's largest shareholder.
Summly's other investors included Wendi Murdoch, Ashton Kutcher and Yoko Ono. The most important one was Li Ka-shing, the Hong Kong billionaire, whose investment fund supported D'Aloisio's idea.
"They took a gamble on me when I was a 15-year-old," D'Aloisio said, with seed financing that let him hire employees and lease office space.
The fund read about D'Aloisio's early-stage app on TechCrunch, the Silicon Valley blog of record, found his e-mail address and startled him with a message expressing interest.
D'Aloisio calls the app an "automatic summarisation algorithm," one that "can take pre-existing long-form content and summarise it." In other words, it tries to solve a problem often summed up with the abbreviation tl;dr: "too long; didn't read."
Summly officially came online last November. By December, D'Aloisio was talking to Yahoo and other suitors.