Yahoo snaps up 17-year-old’s mobile news startup


This Wednesday, Oct. 17, 2012, photo, shows a sign in front of Yahoo! headquarters in Sunnyvale, Calif. (Marcio Jose Sanchez/The Associated Press)

Yahoo Inc. has snapped up mobile news aggregator Summly, the latest in a string of small acquisitions intended to bolster the Web portal’s mobile services.

Summly, founded by 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio two years ago from his home in London, sorts news by topics in quick bites for smartphones. The start-up works closely with News Corp. and is backed by Chinese investor Li Ka-Shing and angel investors including the actor Ashton Kutcher and artist Yoko Ono.

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Terms of the deal were not disclosed, though technology blog AllThingsD reported that Yahoo paid roughly $30-million (U.S.), citing anonymous sources.

Yahoo said it will shut down the Summly app but will integrate the company’s natural language processing and machine-learning technology across Yahoo’s various online services, particularly Yahoo’s line-up of mobile services.

Yahoo chief executive Marissa Mayer is stepping up the company’s efforts to build online services for the smartphones and tablets that consumers increasingly use to access the Web. Yahoo has acquired a handful of small, mobile start-ups since Mayer took over in July, though the company has yet to do any large acquisitions.

Three Summly employees will join Yahoo as part of the deal, which is expected to close in the second quarter, according to Yahoo senior vice-president of mobile and emerging products Adam Cahan. Summly founder Mr. D’Aloisio will remain in London and be Yahoo’s youngest employee, Mr. Cahan told Reuters.

Shares of Yahoo, which have surged roughly 50 percent since Ms. Mayer became CEO, rose 11 cents to $23.36 early Monday afternoon.