Forgot your password?
typodupeerror
Businesses Software United Kingdom Yahoo! News

Yahoo Buys UK Teen's Smartphone News App 88

Posted by samzenpus
from the sounds-familiar dept.
judgecorp writes "Seventeen year old Nick D'Aloisio has sold his smartphone app Summly to Yahoo for an undisclosed sum. The app — created when he was 15 — aggregates news stories by topic and condenses them for time-strapped readers. D'Aloisio and his team will go to work at Yahoo when the deal closes. From the article: 'Summly was founded by 17-year old Nick D’Aloisio when he was just 15 from his home in London. The service works by sorting news stories by topic and condensing them into bite-sized chunks for time-conscious readers. The Summly application will be closed down and integrated with Yahoo’s existing range of mobile applications. D’Aloisio and the Summly team will be joining Yahoo as part of the transaction, which is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.'"
This discussion has been archived. No new comments can be posted.

Yahoo Buys UK Teen's Smartphone News App

Comments Filter:
  • Summary Fail (Score:5, Informative)

    by OverlordQ (264228) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:14PM (#43275257) Journal

    Way to restate the same thing about 5 times to make it looks like there's any real content.

    • It's just a softball for the algorithm that promises to cut it down for 'time-conscious' readers(seriously, when did having the attention span of a crack-addled monkey get redefined as a good thing?) By repeating approximately one sentence worth of actual information more or less verbatim, it sharply increases the odds that the system will actually work...

      • Re:Summary Fail (Score:4, Insightful)

        by nanoflower (1077145) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:31PM (#43275441)
        That's not necessarily for crack-addled monkeys alone. If the algorithm does a good job then it allows someone to quickly scan through the summaries and decide what is worth reading and what isn't. That's what we all want out of the Slashdot summaries but often don't get.
        • There are stories that are straight forward, and making an informative summary for that type of stories are no brainers

          But for stories that are a little bit complicated, it's not that easy to condense it into an informative summary of that story

          I have submitted enough stories to slashdot (and end up with 99% rejection) to know that to do the job well requires much more than a word-selection algorithm

          Since Yahoo is paying a hefty sum for that app, perhaps Yahoo knows something that I don't

          • The reports say that the algorithm written by the teen was based upon or is part of the family of iterative algorithms more commonly referred to as genetic algorithms [wikipedia.org]. The basic idea is to start with a set of possible solution candidates, article summaries in this case, and then pick the best ones iteratively while using so called genetic operations like crossover and mutation to modify the sets before each successive iterative evaluation. In the context of summarizing a body of text one might consider the

      • It's just a softball for the algorithm that promises to cut it down for 'time-conscious' readers(seriously, when did having the attention span of a crack-addled monkey get redefined as a good thing?) By repeating approximately one sentence worth of actual information more or less verbatim, it sharply increases the odds that the system will actually work...

        By gods, you're right! Let's all stop writing abstracts for scientific papers. What a ridiculous idea, abstracts! If all the lazy academicians with the attention span of a crack-addled monkey can't be bothered with reading my twenty pages long paper, screw them! ...or not?

      • by JeanCroix (99825) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:39PM (#43275565) Journal
        I propose we define the Crack-Addled Monkey ("CAM") as a unit of measure for attention spans. Those of us older than 40 could probably measure in the hundreds or thousands of CAMs, even reading entire books (on paper, no less) in a single sitting. Whereas those who need their bite-sized news stories further condensed into sub-tweet sized nuggets would measure in the milliCAM range.
        • This is funny. My attention span is usually very short, but I've been known to read as much as three or four books in the 250-300p range per day on some occasions ("day" being something like 12-14 hours of being awake). Is there something wrong with me?
          • by Hal_Porter (817932) on Monday March 25, 2013 @04:20PM (#43275989)

            Sounds like you have Attention Surplus Disorder. The cure is irregular sleeping hours and meal times.

            Eat more junk food (try to get at least 50% of your calories from Red Bull, Mountain Dew and Cheetos)

            Spend more time on the Internet. Try to avoid slashdot stories unless they the summary is by samzenpus. Don't read the articles, just the summaries. Try to replace your time spent reading books on reddit.

            If you read this far you have a serious and possibly fatal case.

    • Re:Summary Fail (Score:5, Informative)

      by Kenja (541830) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:27PM (#43275389)
      And nowhere does it explain how Yahoo has any money... very suspicious.
      • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:33PM (#43275489)

        It also doesn't say how much Yahoo paid. They probably offered the teenager some Funyons and an official Marissa Mayer signed poster.

      • Despite being "dead in the water" Yahoo has been turning a profit for some time now. As far as I can tell their only recent quarters where they did not make a profit were in 4th Q of 2008 and 1st Q of 2009. Yahoo may not be sexy and "hot", but they also are steadily making a profit.
      • Yahoo has a pretty healthy bank account and revenue stream, as anyone who actually read their financials (as opposed to parroting how "Yahoo is dying") knows.

        • by BonThomme (239873)

          Curious, their cash flow from operations is less than zero.

          Signed,
          Anyone who actually read their financials

    • by Anonymous Coward

      Welcome to the world of modern journalism. How else do you think that sleepy cities like Pittsburgh fill 3 hours of evening news without actually touching on anything that the people should really be aware of?

      • by crutchy (1949900)

        Families in Pittsburgh can't afford electricity to power the plasma TVs they went further into debt to afford before 2008, so it doesn't really matter much anyway.

    • Summly Fail (Score:4, Funny)

      by K. S. Kyosuke (729550) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:33PM (#43275491)

      Way to restate the same thing about 5 times to make it looks like there's any real content.

      That's obviously because you're not reading it with Summly, which would shorten in into just three lines.

    • by jittles (1613415)

      Way to restate the same thing about 5 times to make it looks like there's any real content.

      It's a bug in his algorithm, he obviously condensed the article incorrectly. Oh wait, you mean he doesn't work for slashdot? Does that mean the editors are real people?

    • This got me thinking that Apps and internet companies are a great way to launder money. You buy illegal goods under the cover of publically paying someone for their "app" which turns out to have no value later. Politicians that want illegal direct donations can skip to whole speaking fee nonsense which has reasonable caps and instead author dubious apps and sell these to the Koch brothers for ten million a pop.

    • His algorithm is actually like a heat pump. It reduces the article's entropy by pumping random redundant text into slashdot.

  • by Anonymous Coward on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:19PM (#43275313)

    Starting law suits over this.
    Cue half a dozen news publishers sueing over aggregating their stories.

    Sigh.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    First they cancel telecommuting, and now they blow millions on some kid's news aggregator.

    • by robably (1044462)
      Literally. It doesn't mention it in the article but on the BBC teatime news it said Yahoo had paid "dozens of millions of pounds" for the app, as well as hiring the kid. So somewhere over 24 million pounds, or 36.5 million dollars.

      I'll just spell that out: THIRTY SIX AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.

      Words fail me.
      • I'll just spell that out: THIRTY SIX AND A HALF MILLION DOLLARS.

        Actually, spelling it out would be "Tee aitch eye are tee why space ess eye..."

        But yeah, that is a ridiculous sum of money.

    • Makes you wonder if they shouldn't have aggregated the minds of the excess telecommuting employees using the algorithm and turned their bodies into cup cakes.

      So you'd be able to read a five line summary of Bud's thoughts- which was probably more than you got out of him when he was telecommuting - *and* you'd have tasty cupcakes to keep you in the office with his IM handle written in icing on top in the CEO's charmingly girly handwriting with little smilies and hearts instead of dots on the letters.

      Plus some

    • Whats worse is the kid didn't even do anything special. according to Summly's own website [summly.com], they partnered with SRI International for the AI: "Summly came to SRI International with a core concept to solve the information overload problem, which is especially challenging for mobile devices because of their limited screen size," said David Israel, Ph.D. So SRI wrote the AI piece which does the heavy lifting, and the kid's company made pretty UI to display the summarized articles. $30 million well spent...
      • by Xest (935314)

        "So SRI wrote the AI piece which does the heavy lifting, and the kid's company made pretty UI to display the summarized articles. $30 million well spent..."

        It doesn't stop there, apparently they had a 3rd party making the Android version for them who are now ticked off that the app they've built wont see the light of day. In other words his company couldn't even do the Android side of things in house.

        What exactly has Yahoo paid for here? a 17 year old who can write an iOS interface for a bit of software he

  • ..already available in the App Store, or any of these: http://lifehacker.com/5845798/five-best-news-aggregators

    • It summarises the stories for you, apparently quite competently (I haven't used it myself - it won't run on a 2nd gen Touch). As far as I could tell, none of those aggregators in the linked article do that.

      • It summarises the stories for you, apparently quite competently (I haven't used it myself - it won't run on a 2nd gen Touch). As far as I could tell, none of those aggregators in the linked article do that.

        That feature sounds nice. But, how long would it take someone to reverse engineer how it works. Why would Yahoo spend more than 1 engineer's annual salary buying this? It sounds like the kind of thing that could be replaced by a pretty small Perl Script.

  • "D’Aloisio and the Summly team will be joining Yahoo as part of the transaction..."

    Well there goes working from home, kid!
  • by Anonymous Coward

    The Summly application will be closed down and integrated with Yahoo’s existing range of mobile applications.

    Sounds like they're going to take what was probably a nice, small app with streamlined code, and bloat the everloving piss out of it by integrating it into the godawful nightmare that is anything that Yahoo touches. Seriously, who even USES yahoo any more? I honestly have not heard a single person I know utter their name in at least 5 years.

    Well, whoever has this app now, you probably want to look for a replacement, because I'd bet money on the 'integrated' version being a horrendously slow, ad-filled beh

    • by tehcyder (746570)

      Seriously, who even USES yahoo any more? I honestly have not heard a single person I know utter their name in at least 5 years.

      Why do people keep posting shite like this on slashdot? We know yahoo! aren't all cool and trendy like the beloved Google or Apple, but they're still a company with turnover of $1 billion a quarter (quick Google) so they're doing something all right.

    • by KZigurs (638781)

      They are going to get rid of the app and fold the core algorithm into yahoo websites.

  • /me just gets the popcorn and watches.

  • Is this supposed to revitalize my interest in Yahoo stock? The kid wrote a news app. Not a social media platform.
  • by Culture20 (968837) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:43PM (#43275629)

    The Summly application will be closed down

    So they just wanted the name and the programmer, but not the app?

  • Um, so... (Score:4, Insightful)

    by TheSkepticalOptimist (898384) on Monday March 25, 2013 @03:47PM (#43275663)

    He reinvented Slashdot? I don't know because I didn't RTFA which is apparently what this app is all about.

  • This pisses me off more than a nerd who gets a girl! >:-(

  • It's going to be a heck of a commute, from the UK to Sunnyvale.

    • It's going to be a heck of a commute, from the UK to Sunnyvale.

      It's okay, it's 2013 so he can telecommut... oh wait, yeah you're right!

    • by xaxa (988988)

      It's going to be a heck of a commute, from the UK to Sunnyvale.

      Yahoo have an office in central London.

  • It's an interesting project with NLP tossed in there.

    http://tldrstuff.com/ [tldrstuff.com]

    I've tried it on my tablet and prefer to read the original articles, but meh.
  • As opposed to a news corporation dutifully maintaining a good RSS feed?

  • by opusman (33143)

    Yahoo has mobile applications? o.O

  • by petsounds (593538) on Monday March 25, 2013 @07:09PM (#43277413)

    $30 million for a newsreader app. Really. $30 million.

    Apple recently spent, according to estimates, $20 million on a company which allows phones to map indoor spaces. That tech will directly help improve their Maps product. So $20 million for very innovative stuff. Apple will surely get their money's worth out of that purchase.

    In contrast, $30 million for Summly, which probably just packaged some open source libraries for summarizing documents. I don't see any secret sauce or innovation in this product. This purchase smells of desperation by Mayer & Co, but I guess if I was Yahoo and had no products anyone cared about, I'd be desperate too.

  • by Anonymous Coward

    He was the subject of some news stories a while ago.

    As I recall, said stories were very, very careful to dance around the fact that his father had essentially set him up through his connections with some pretty powerful people. The app itself isn't crap, but it isn't good either- it's just a net zero and went absolutely nowhere after he got his initial "investments" through his family. Frankly, given the breadth of the knowledge on the internet and how easy it is to type code into a graphical IDE and click

    • by gizmo2199 (458329)

      And that's really what bothers me about the whole thing. Apart from some idiot in the NY Times calling him a "genius programmer", what bugs me is that there's is no way he has the CS skills to do this by himself (which would have been impressive). And what do we find: he was able to get a bunch of seed money from wealthy investors and hire some developers and "partner" with an AI company to do the actual backed. I'm sure the fact that his dad is a banker and his mom is a lawyer had nothing to do with any of

    • I'm not even sure why this is news.

      $30 million dollars is why this is news. I've got two friends publishing Apps for their livelihoods, and combined they make half what I do as a typical developer.

      There may be a lot of comments saying "this app is crap," but still no one has explained how he got $30million for it. You've theorized connections, others have theorized: anything that uses yahoo's typical interests.

      Someone got rich and famous over a simple app, while all the app developers I know are scrounging by while producing much fancier app

  • Since D'Aloisio, at least, lives in London, will he have to move to California to work for Yahoo once the deal closes?
  • Yahoo is seriously dead.

    They were murdered by an ex Hollywood hack they hired as the CEO - Terry Semel - who probably knew how to massage egos of Hollywood actors but had no idea on science, internet, technology and so on. Remember Yahoo buying broadcast.com - I still don't know what was broadcast.com - other than the fact it was a nice URL. Mark Cuban and a lot of people who brokered the deal got rich by sales commission from Cuban - that's all.

    Jerry Yang and David Filo are no Sergey Brin and Larry P

Genius is ten percent inspiration and fifty percent capital gains.

Working...