Meet 17-year-old British high schooler Nick D'Aloisio, the Justin Bieber of iPhone app development. He just sold his iPhone app Summly, which he started when he was 15, to Yahoo for $30 million, according to All Things Digital.
The app uses an algorithm to automatically create 400-character summaries of news articles and deliver them to your phone. Among early investors were Wendi Murdoch and Ashton Kutcher So, this 17-year-old kid got rich off an app that, if successful, would basically make most journalists obsolete. As you may know, destroying journalism is where the money is at, in the tech biz. Yahoo is now planning to close the app down and integrate its technology into its own quest to replace all journalists with math robots.
D'Aloisio lives with his dad, who works at Morgan Stanley, and mom, a lawyer in London and still has a year and a half in high school, according to the Times. He's also apparently grown up a lot in the last two years: In 2010 a then-15-year-old D'Alosio harassed our tech sister site Gizmodo with a PR barrage of emails about his app Trimit—Summly's predecessor—so obnoxious they wrote a whole post about it.
A sample of D'Alosio's tactics:
Over the course of a few days, D'aloisio berserker barraged me with over a hundred e-mails about Trimit. I saw him go from calm to excited to a nervous wreck to suffering a nervous break down to threatening to bat shit crazy to borderline suicidal. Here's how it went (each line is a different e-mail FYI):
How are you finding trimit? Could you possibly do a post? We'd be so appreciative if you could!
Could you give me an update regarding an article?
Are we going to please get a post? We now have over 10 five star reviews and are in top 20 of utilities!
Casey? Are we going on at 6pm?
The whole thing ended with D'Aloisio in tears. But, look who's crying now: All of us, who don't have $30 million. Don't cry, D'Aloisio is telling Reuters how you can make $30 million, too:
"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," said the 17-year-old, who the entire tech industry is now forced to take seriously because he has made $30 million.
As with stories of preternaturally succesful youngsters in any industry, the news has been met with a combination of hype, skepticism, and rage-blinding jealousy within the tech industry. I have not seen this much passive-aggression from adults directed at someone below drinking age since tween blogger Tavi Gevinsen pissed off fashionistas with her big hat. A blog post by start up guy Vibhu Norby called "The Summlly Deal makes No Sense" has been at the top of the digital tech watercooler Hackernews all day.
"What??????," wrote Norby. "The craziest thing is that there are a lot of really qualified, CS-beefy teams doing really amazing things in the mobile news/discovery space these days... I don't really understand why they picked this one." Someone should make an app that distills all that haterade into a single easily-consumable tablet.
The theory goes that Yahoo just bought this app and its young hip founder in order to seem "cool," now that it is being revamped by flashy new CEO Marissa Mayer, and that the app isn't actually worth $30 million. Unlike all the other apps that are expertly valued according to their real worth. Here is a hint for all you tech moguls: purchasing any iPhone app is foolhardy, as we will all have computers feeding decontextualized data directly to our brains any day now.