Still hoping that big idea will come along? Well, don’t be too put out to learn that 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio has just sold a smartphone app he designed in his Wimbledon bedroom to Yahoo for tens of millions. No one knows the exact figure – he is too young to be a director so the money has had to be put into trust – but it is thought to be somewhere around the £20-30m mark. Not surprisingly, Aloisio says the sale was ‘like a dream’, especially since it came just four months after the app was officially launched.
So what does the app actually do? Well, it scours the latest news on the internet, and then uses an algorithm to reduce all the information down to bite size roundups of each story. The app features a futuristic interface that helps present the news attractively instead of just as lines of text. More than one million people have downloaded it since the official launch.
He said: ‘I honestly never expected any of this to happen. I started doing it as a hobby and I didn’t realise it was possible to make money out of it.’ Asked what he would buy with his windfall, he answered: ‘I like shoes, I will buy a new pair of Nike trainers and I’ll probably get a new computer but at the moment I just want to save and bank it. I don’t have many living expenses.’ Aloisio has been writing code for apps since he was in his early teens, and has released around five that were simply ‘gimmicky’ games, but which he claims gave him an invaluable learning experience.
So where is the company at right now? Summly currently has 10 employees and is holed up in the trendy Tech City area of Shoreditch in East London. But it has been taken off Apple’s App Store today for a ‘power nap’ whilst Yahoo integrates the technology into a raft of its own products, according to the Summly website. Aloisio has been out of full-time schooling for around six months to oversee the development of the business – it has already received £160,000 of investment from a Chinese billionaire as well as backing from Stephen Fry, Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher.
And what of Aloisio’s not-so-misspent youth? Will he not live to regret becoming a Silicon Valley businessman at such a young age? He insists that ‘it’s just the normal banter’ with his friends, and that their A-Levels are ‘just as pressurised’ as the work he does. Maybe they are, but they sure ain’t as lucrative.