Summly: 5 Fast Facts You Need to Know

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Nick D’Aloisio’s app, Summly, sold to Yahoo for $30 million. In the world of app sales, $30 million is no joke, especially when the app was developed by a 15-year-old teenager in his bedroom. For instance, Mailbox, an app that organizes your Gmail accounts, had a 1 million person waiting list and sold for $100 million dollars to cloud-storage service DropBox after only one month after it’s public release. In April 2012, Facebook bought an app called Instagram, which lets users customize photos and pictures and upload them to social media sites like Twitter and Facebook, for $1 billion. Obviously Summly didn’t raise quite as much money, but the developers who created Instagram and Mailbox were experienced veterans, not teenagers. But what exactly is Summly and why would Yahoo want to buy the app? Here are 5 fast facts you need to know about Summly.

1. Summly Condenses News Into A Few Sentences

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Summly’s purpose is to condense news into only a few sentences so that you can understand the gist of a story without reading the hundreds of words. Here’s what the Summly info page says about how the app works:

While we started with a relatively simple extraction algorithm for general news, we have now launched a bold and ambitious effort to take summarisation technology far beyond its present state. Our in-house research makes innovative use of machine learning and natural language processing, using evaluation metrics that show our technology to be highly effective.”

In addition, Summly has partnered up with SRI International (Stanford Research Institute), and the pair worked on developing a natural language processor.

2. Summly Managed To Raise $1.5 Million in Funding

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Summly was initially started in late 2011 and soon afterwards, D’Aloisio managed to secure over $300,000 from Li Ka-Shing, a venture capitalist. D’Aloisio received the VC investment at the age of 15, making him the youngest person to receive VC funding. A year later, D’Aloisio raised another $1.2 million from a group filled with huge celebrities that were looking to invest in up-and-coming projects. Among those celebrities include Yoko Ono, Zynga co-founder Mark Pincus, and Ashton Kutcher

3. Summly Will Be Shutting Down…For Now

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Summly, unfortunately, will be shutting down now that Yahoo has purchased the app. The app still works (very well, in fact), but, according to a Yahoo blog post, Yahoo will be absorbing Summly and implementing the features to Yahoo products. In addition, Nick and the Summly team will be working for Yahoo from its UK offices. The blog post sounded optimistic of using Summly’s technology in Yahoo products, saying, “Nick and the Summly team are joining Yahoo! in the coming weeks. While the Summly app will close, you will see the technology come to life throughout Yahoo!’s mobile experiences soon. So stay tuned!”

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4. Nick D’Aloisio may leave Yahoo after only 18 months

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However, according to an AllThingsD article, Yahoo didn’t actually purchase Summly, but purchased the app to have Nick D’Aloisio become the face of the company, alongside Marissa Mayer, Yahoo’s CEO. The problem is, his contract is only for 18 months, which means that he could leave after less than 2 years of working at Yahoo. If D’Aloisio leaves, it may prove to be a costly acquisition for Yahoo that fell flat after only two years.

5. Summly is an App for a Generation Constantly On-The-Go

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Summly works because it’s perfect for the generation of users who are growing up with a smartphone and have been connected to the Internet for most of their lives. No one wants to read a 700 word article about the Dow Jones reach an all-time high. But, condense those 700 words into a paragraph, or even a few sentences, and you can attract a lot more readers. For a generation that is used to writing 140 characters at a time, Summly’s succinct and direct approach makes it the perfect app.