Yahoo buys Summly to take another step toward mobile

Steven Loeb · March 25, 2013 · Short URL:

Mobile news summarizer was founded by British teenager Nick D’Aloisio

Yahoo has been on a huge shopping spree lately. Every few days, it seems, the company is acqu-hiring a new company, and focusing more and more on developing itself on mobile.

The latest company to be snatched up by Yahoo is Summly, the news summarizer created by then 15-year-old British wunderkind Nick D’Aloisio, Yahoo announced Monday. Summly is a mobile app that uses an algorithm to generate summaries from thousands of news sources from around the Web, making reading the news easier and clearer.

Terms of the deal were not disclosed, but D’Aloisio and the Summly team will be joining Yahoo, while the Summly app will be shutting down. The transaction is subject to customary closing conditions and is expected to close in the second quarter of 2013.

In the announcement, Yahoo made it clear that the purchase of Summly was another step in the direction of making good on its promise to focus on mobile.

"At the age of 15, Nick D’Aloisio created the Summly app at his home in London. It started with an insight -- that we live in a world of constant information and need new ways to simplify how we find the stories that are important to us, at a glance," Adam Cahan, Senior Vice President of Mobile and Emerging Products, wrote in a blogpost.

"Mobile devices are shifting our daily routines, and users have changed not only what, but how much information they consume. Yet most articles and web pages were formatted for browsing with mouse clicks. The ability to skim them on a phone or a tablet can be a real challenge -- we want easier ways to identify what’s important to us."

London-based Summly only launched in November 2012, but in its first month the service gained over 500,000 users, and became the number one app in the news category in 28 countries, including the United Kingdom and the United States. Over 30 million news summaries were read in its first four weeks. 

Since its launch, over 90 million summaries have now been read in total.

"Our vision is to simplify how we get information and we are thrilled to continue this mission with Yahoo!'s global scale and expertise. After spending some time on campus, I discovered that Yahoo! has an inspirational goal to make people's daily routines entertaining and meaningful, and mobile will be a central part of that vision. For us, it's the perfect fit," D’Aloisio wrote in a note on the Summly homepage.

Yahoo going mobile

Over the last six months or so, Yahoo redoubled in efforts to be a mobile-first company. And, to do that, it has made a series of updated and purchases.

In October, Yahoo acquired Stamped, the Justin Bieber-backed mobile app that lets users “stamp” and share their favorite restaurants, movies, books, music, and more.

In December, Yahoo updated its Flickr app with high resolution filters that users can apply after they have taken the photo/ Additionally, the new Flickr app lets them share the photos on Facebook, Twitter, Tumblr, and email. They can also upload multiple photos from their camera roll to the Flickr site and tag people and add locations from Foursquare.

The updated app also added a new Explore tab that allows users to browse other users’ photos and check out details like how the photo was taken, what groups and sets it belongs to, and who is tagged.

The company also acqui-hired the team from OnTheAir, a video chat service that can be used for casual hangouts or to organize largish webinars, due to users’ ability to moderate speakers and converse with participants via a split screen.  Audience members can “call in,” or they can chat with one another.  Yahoo claims that it has no plans to use the technology though.

In February, Yahoo purchased location discovery app Alike, and then, earlier this month, Yahoo acqu-hired the team at personalized recommendation service Jybe, giving the company both a location service, and now a team with knowledge in personalized recommendations.

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