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 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

User Comments: 7

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psycros psycros said:

FINALLY, Yahoo actually makes a sensible move!! I've been saying for at least seven years that Yahoo needs to start pushing all of its many divisions in a big way, with news and e-periodicals being headliners. Who even hears about Yahoo Music anymore? You'd never even know it existed but its been around forever. Yahoo needs to forget social - its ran its course and really never delivered on its marketing potential. Yahoo needs to be about connecting people to what their really looking for, but in the context the *user* likes best. They could pull a total end-run around the abysmal cesspits of FB, Twitter and all the rest. An awful lot of folks still use Yahoo Mail. How about putting the ol' Yahoo quick links bar on top of the client? And while their at it they could buck the trend of ugly flat design that the industry is following blindly. Most people find it unattractive and a waste of screen real estate (not to mention non-intuitive compared to clearly labeled and recognizable iconography). Yahoo should stop following the leader and blaze a path that many of us would happily follow: a path of personal choice, easy access to a full suite of online services and attractive, highly usable design. They need to pay whatever they must to get the best outside-the-box programmers to build Yahoo a world class search engine. Are you listening, Ms. Myer? You've made some good calls recently, like eliminating the unproductive work-from-home paradigm. Go all the way and leverage Yahoo's brand power and broad catalog of services into what it should be. Show Google to be the one-trick pony that it is: all they have is search (well, that and a massive campaign of privacy invasion). Yahoo Mail is head and shoulders above Gmail and always has been, even with the less-than-optimal front-end its currently using. Right now the entire consumer tech sector is in flux. The time for bold moves that really bring people back to Yahoo is now.

JC713 JC713 said:

I hate to see huge companies buying out great start ups, but heck 30 million to a 17 year old. He is set for life haha. I love that app.

Larysa Larysa said:

Why would they close the app? Sounds like a very bizarre move to me... They will now lose the momentum saying nothing like free marketing they receive... It is like Instagram would close on FB acquisition. That would kill the app actually...

A propos, it was difficult to find anything on Nick, here is the best resource so far: many . at / nickdaloisio

9Nails, TechSpot Paladin, said:

This does seem like a pretty clever app. Lucky young man as well to have had the thought and the talent to execute it.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

What an early coming-of-age treat for Nick D'Aloisio. Kids...

JC713 JC713 said:

I read an article by Reuters today, he wants to invest the money. Good decisions.

TS-56336 TS-56336 said:

I read an article by Reuters today, he wants to invest the money. Good decisions.

Smart move indeed. The last thing he'll need is to be a philanthropist.

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