Wednesday, 27 March 2013

A Little Help from HK's Superman

Teenager Nick D'Aloisio reportedly sold his app for $30 million to Yahoo
The 17 year old who reportedly sold his app to Yahoo for $30 million got some of his seed money from Hong Kong's richest man, Li Ka-shing.

Nick D'Aloisio created Summly, which uses an alogorithm to automatically summarize long news stories into shorter versions that can be easily read on smartphones, or those who just want quick synopses of what's going on.

"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," he said Monday.

D'Aloisio says he was first inspired when he had a frustrating experience trawling through Google searches and separate websites when he was studying for a test.

So he created Trimit, an earlier version of Summly, where it takes an article and reduces it down to about 400 characters. This idea caught the attention of Horizons Ventures, Li's venture capitalist company, and it invested $250,000.

"They took a gamble on a 15-year-old," said D'Aloisio, who added the money was used to hire employees and lease office space.

Soon afterwards other celebrity backers added more money to the venture, including Yoko Ono, Hollywood actor Ashton Kutcher, British broadcaster Stephen Fry and News Corp media mogul Rupert Murdoch.

D'Aloisio got seed money from Li Ka-shing's company
"It's been super-exciting, (the investors) found out about it in 2012 once the original investment from Li Ka-shing had gone public," he said. "They all believed in the idea, but they all offered different experiences to help us out."

When D'Aloisio was 12 years old he taught himself to code after Apple's App Store was launched. He then created several apps, including Facemood, a service that analyzed the moods of Facebook users, and music discovery service called SongStumblr.

This teenager hitting the jackpot is what many are trying to do in this post dot-com boom... it's getting harder and harder to make the deals, but as D'Aloisio shows, if you have a good product or service, someone out there is willing to invest in it.

And it also demonstrates Li's (or shall we saw his subordinates') foresight in D'Aloisio's service, since Li's companies have shares in Facebook, Spotify, picture and video sharing site doubleTwist and Apple's Siri.

Anyone else have any brilliant ideas?

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