Yahoo acquires news-summarizing app Summly for $30 million

By on March 25, 2013, 5:00 PM

Continuing with the pursuit to revamp its digital news and media business, Yahoo has announced that it will be acquiring Summly, a startup that aims at summarizing web content into a digestible format more fit for mobile devices. Financial terms of the deal were left under wraps, but AllThingsD.com claims the transaction closed at $30 million -- 90% cash and 10% stock. Not bad for the less than two-year-old iPhone app which, by the way, was first designed by London-based Nick D’Aloisio from the comfort of his bedroom at the age of 15.

In a nutshell, what Summly does is let you pick your news sources from a set of pre-packaged categories or your favorite websites, and you can enter keywords for topics you are interested in as well. From there the app will show you the latest stories summarized in up to 400 characters and presented in a cleanly designed interface.

Rather than using a linear algorithm for creating summaries, Summly is said to use artificial intelligence and natural language processing to generate its content so you see just the sentences that matters most. The app was also named one of Apple’s Best Apps of 2012 for Intuitive Touch, and as such several gestures are supported to access full articles, a longer and more detailed summary, or share stories with friends.

In a press release issued today, Yahoo stated that the Summly team would be joining Yahoo "in the coming weeks.” D’Aloisio also posted about the acquisition on the Summly blog, noting that the iPhone app will be retired, but their “summarization technology will soon return to multiple Yahoo! products.”

The news come shortly after Google announced it would be shuttering Google Reader. Although Summly is not a direct replacement Yahoo may be able to capitalize on this as people look for alternatives to fill that void.

The ability to skim [news] on a phone or a tablet can be a real challenge. Summly solves this by delivering snapshots of stories, giving you a simple and elegant way to find the news you want, faster than ever before. For publishers, the Summly technology provides a new approach to drive interest in stories and reach a generation of mobile users that want information on the go.

Source: Yahoo

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