The 17-Year-Old Yahoo Paid $30 Million Did Not Build His Startup’s App (Or Invent Its Technology)

Nick D’Aloisio via TwitterNick D’Aloisio, founder of SummlyA few weeks ago, Yahoo made headlines when it acquired Summly, a startup run by a 17-year-old CEO named Nick D’Aloisio for $30 million.

Summly is a news aggregation app.

We thought the deal was weird.

Here is why:

  • Summly never had many users or any revenues. Yahoo is shutting the app down. Yahoo is saying the point of the deal is to have Summly’s CEO help lead the company in mobile.
  • But Summly’s CEO lives in London, where he is staying to finish school
  • The CEO has only promised to stay at Yahoo for the next 18 months.  
  • The CEO is 17-years-old. We don’t buy that he’s going to be able to lead or inspire adult Yahoo engineers and designers.
  • The Summly team did not invent the core technology behind the app. It was created by SRI, which licensed the tech to Summly in exchange for equity. 

Now we’ve learned another piece of information that makes the deal stranger. 

Not only did the Summly team not invent the app’s technology, they also did not build the app. A company called Somo did. Somo is “the UK’s largest independent mobile marketing agency.” It just raised a bunch of money.

So here is what Yahoo did: It “aqui-hired” a team of people, led by a 17-year-old living in London, that cannot claim to have invented a cool technology OR to have built a cool app. Yahoo does own the technology SRI invented for Summly, but it doesn’t own SRI, so it hasn’t acquired the team that can scale the technology for Yahoo.


Anyway, $30 million is not a lot of money for Yahoo, and this story is getting a little old. So we’re kind of beating a dead horse. But still. What a strange acquisition.