Mark Zuckerberg at the age of 19 created Facebook in his Harvard dorm room to improve his social life. Today he is said to be worth $13.3billion. Across the Atlantic, and almost a decade later, 17-year-old boy genius Nick D’Aloisio has sold Summly, an iPhone app that he created from his Wimbledon bedroom while preparing for his GCSEs, to Yahoo! for $30million (or so spins the rumour mills). And what does he want to buy? A “shoulder bag” and a pair of Nike trainers! Rumple-haired Nick has all the qualities of a Zuckerberg or Sean Parker (the Napster fella). So, who is Nick and what is Summly?
What’s all the noise over Summly (originally called Trimit)?
It will transform the way we receive news on mobile phones. Youngsters are too impatient to download articles from websites and they skim through Twitter to know what’s happening. Nick’s app detects the latest updates about a chosen issue, which are then distilled into “summaries” of 400-500 characters that fit on iPhone screens. For example, select Manmohan Singh and instantly summaries are displayed with the name and logo of the news source. Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing (who also invested in Siri and Spotify) realised the potential of the project early on and invested in Summly when Nick was only 15 years old.
Where did he find so much time?
He has been coding in his south London bedroom since the age of 12 and has taken a sabbatical from King’s College School.
Who scratches Nick’s back?
Ashton Kutcher: Nick has already met the Holly actor/tech junkie to discuss the app.
Yoko Ono: Mrs Lennon has not only invested in Summly but has also worked with Nick on her London art exhibition, Smiles.
Stephen Fry: Twitterati’s leading light took part in the Beta testing of Summly.
Rupert Murdoch: The ever-bullish News Corp head honcho is always looking at ways to make people pay to access digital content.
Should I ask him out for a drink, dinner and more?
Sure, he has been joined by Yahoo! biggies and that means good times are here to stay. He has already been placed in the Forbes “30 Under 30” and won a Spirit of London Award in December 2012 for Entrepreneur of the Year. But girls, be careful, his mom is a lawyer and dad an investment banker!
Not another brick in the wall, eh?
His parents may not believe in “radical unschooling” but they are chilled out about his sabbatical. They, in fact, met the headmaster to work out the deal. Nick said in an interview: “Looking back, I can say it was a massive gamble. But it was a good gamble.”
Obsession with all things tech…
He got his first computer (a MacBook) when he was nine and at age 12 he taught himself coding (from the book C For Dummies). Before Summly, he gave the world SongStumblr (music app) and Facemood (predicting the mood of a user from FB updates).
Bank balance: Up from $60 to $30million
Wardrobe: Geeky T-shirts and coloured jeans
Drinks: Orange energy drink
Sleeps: Let’s just say he is up at 5am
Brain power: Studies maths, physics and philosophy. Has also been learning Russian and Mandarin
On the ground: Plays cricket and rugby
Girlfriend: Has one but won’t name her
Fave websites/apps: Path (a social networking-enabled photo sharing and messaging service), Quora (a Q&A website curated by users) and Mailbox (free email management application)