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Yahoo buying iOS app Summly, removes it from App Store for 'power nap'

post #1 of 11
Thread Starter 
Internet giant Yahoo continued its acquisition push on Monday, bringing iOS news summarization app Summly into the fold for an undisclosed sum.


Yahoo announced the acquisition Monday in a post on the company blog, and Nick D'Aloisio confirmed the buy on Summly's home page. Neither site has given specifics regarding the price paid for Summly, but AllThingsD puts the price at around $30 million.

Summly uses a natural language algorithm to summarize news stories into bits of fewer than 400 characters. Using its minimalist interface, users can swipe through stories and topics quickly and navigate to stories of interest just by tapping them. The app began as a prototype called Trimmit, which attracted seed funding from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-Shing's investment firm, as well as other investors later.

D'Alosio and the Summly team will be joining Yahoo in the coming weeks, according to Yahoo's announcement. The announcement also notes that the Summly iOS app will be shutting down, but that Yahoo users can expect to see it integrated into Yahoo's mobile technology in the near future. D'Alosio says users can look forward to seeing the summarization technology in "multiple Yahoo products," describing the app's shutdown as "a 'power nap' so to speak."
post #2 of 11
Internet giant Yahoo ...

Its still nice to hear the word "giant" added after Yahoo! 

Hope, Marissa brings up good fight with Google.

Edited by Chandra69 - 3/25/13 at 11:39am
post #3 of 11

God idea.  Maybe this will help improv Yahoo's standing in the iOS market.  Currently it suck.

An Apple man since 1977
An Apple man since 1977
post #4 of 11

According to news reports, the price was $30 million. http://www.forbes.com/sites/connieguglielmo/2013/03/25/yahoo-buys-mobile-news-app-summly-from-teen-entrepreneur/


Not bad at all!

post #5 of 11
$30m seems like a lot of money for a text truncating app even assuming the use of natural language processing as you'd expect a major search engine provider like Yahoo to have algorithms to do that but I guess reconstructing content in summarised form must be beyond what they already have and the description in the following video makes perfect sense as to why it would be used by a search engine provider:

If you think about it from the point of view of how Google works just now, you type in a phrase and you get links with a snippet of text that is close to your search terms. Very rarely can you determine from that snippet of text if the article at the link is going to give you the info you need. What Summly could do instead is rewrite the article on the page in a shortened form so that it would be clearer to see at a glance which links are the most useful.

No doubt the algorithms will help get better results too, which may explain why he works for Yahoo now as they can use it a number of products.

Now Google just needs to figure out a way to copy it and call it innovation.
post #6 of 11
I hope he still has time to concentrate on his A-levels. 1smile.gif
post #7 of 11
Where is the innovation? There are many applications that implement similar functionality with greater accuracy. For example, Intellexer Summarizer.
Where is research papers and participation in scientific conferences, like ACL, TREC?
To my mind, Yahoo throwing money away.
post #8 of 11
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 actual.ly...

A propos, it was difficult to find anything on Nick, here is the best resource so far: http://many.at/nickdaloisio/
post #9 of 11
I don't understand all the cheerleading. Really, it's an absurd deal, and it certainly won't help Nick's career. See here: http://www.fakenation.info/please/the-summly-lesson
post #10 of 11
Originally Posted by chaz4wildman View Post

I don't understand all the cheerleading. Really, it's an absurd deal, and it certainly won't help Nick's career.

He has $30m at 17 vs no money. I'd say that's a good career move. He has enough money that he can do whatever he wants for the rest of his life. He could invest $20m and turn it into hundreds of millions, maybe even billions over the course of his lifetime without lifting a finger.

There are valid points about Yahoo and competing software but not every decision made by a major company is going to be logical at face value. There's a clear publicity benefit from supporting a young student - every company wants to be in with students - and it will look like active changes are happening under the new management as your link points out.

The value goes beyond what the technology itself does. Apple paid $80m for Lala, which is iTunes Match now. They probably could have done that in-house or bought a much cheaper service but they decided to just buy that one. Same with Facebook buying Instagram for $1b.

It's the responsibility of the people writing the cheques to determine if the purchase is worth the price and some of the time, it's for the talent behind the purchase. Money has no inherent value, it can only be exchanged for things that do have inherent value and that's what Yahoo did. They exchanged a $30m pile of valueless money for a talented young employee, a lot of publicity and some software algorithms, which they may or may not have been able to replicate. If it doesn't work out like Microsoft's purchase of aQuantive, which resulted in a $6.2b write-down, they just write it off. For a company like Yahoo, $30m is not a lot of money, especially if it gets them some interest from the nearly 1 million people who downloaded Summly or people who follow the celebrity backers:

The good thing about these stories is they clearly show how to get rich in the tech industry: just work on something small but key to a company strategy, like the PageRank algorithm. Figure out what they really need, implement it well, raise awareness of it and they'll fall over themselves to throw money at you. Static money is no good, it needs to be spent on things that maintain growth. That's why Apple should be investing more instead of hoarding. They said they do make small strategic investments though and it takes time for good opportunities to arise. A lot of companies just won't even know about the software and talent that's out there unless it has enough publicity already.

Where it seems to work out best is when you align something that you are really interested in and put a lot of effort into with something that also happens to be one of these key technologies that large companies want. Steve Jobs didn't have to go back to Apple if he didn't want to. Mark Zuckerberg could have sold Facebook to Google, Viacom, News Corp or any of the big companies that offered money for it. Steve Jobs once said 'the only way to do great work is to love what you do'. I'm sure some people have done great work in return for money but it generally holds up. If you don't put any energy or passion into something, you'll generally do a poor job.

Given that Nick is working for Yahoo, he probably has an interest is what he's doing and people who are like that deserve to be rewarded. This is where you can see the failings in companies like Microsoft because there's no sense that the people there care enough about what they do. They can hold back the web, put out as much proprietary rubbish and lock businesses into their services so long as it protects the income. Google is mixed because they promote open software on the one hand but do it to give them control of their advertising streams. The motives are reflected in the quality of their work and when they perform badly, it leaves the door open to people who do things well. Bing has failed miserably to unseat Google search because what they've done looks and works just like Google search (I don't know why Google hasn't sued them for this yet). If Yahoo takes on a new strategy for search like Siri did on the iPhone, they could easily move up in popularity.

I actually think this would have been a good idea for Newsstand. Rather than subscribe to one publication, you'd tell it your interests and it would feed summaries of relevant articles into a wall of content and you'd be able to rank each article, like a personalised newspaper. It could be a single subscription and the subscription fee would be divided between the articles you read. If you read too many articles for your subscription level, it can cap the amount of articles that feed in. I actually don't use Newsstand at all because there isn't a single source of information that covers what I can get online. RSS helps but I still have to click though each article and there's no way for content creators to monetise it effectively.
post #11 of 11
Facebook bought Instagram. Microsoft bought Skype. Neither company removed those apps from the app store. Yahoo couldn't buy the publicity and interest this story is currently receiving. Power nap most likely means some kind of rebranding. In the interim, Yahoo is likely losing hundreds of thousands to millions of people who would want to check out the app. By the time it's relaunched, with a new Yahoo logo attached, most of those people will have forgotten about the app or simply won't care. Yahoo continues to accelerate its decline into irrelevance every day.
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