Nick D’Aloisio is tech’s newest wunderkind—and he might be the epicenter of Yahoo’s latest PR push.
On Monday, Yahoo bought Summly
, the news-reader app that D’Aloisio founded when he was 15. Although an official price wasn’t mentioned, Kara Swisher, ace reporter at All Things D
Yahoo paid $30 million for the app. (A Yahoo spokesperson told PR Daily
the company does not comment on rumors or speculation.)
According to Swisher, the tech giant plans to shutter Summly, incorporate its technology, and trot out D’Aloisio, who is now 17, for the media. In other words, tech publications and bloggers are calling it a $30 million PR move on Yahoo’s part—a bid to make Yahoo more relevant to the younger, mobile-loving demographic.
That helps explain the steep price tag for Summly, which reportedly had fewer than one million downloads. An anonymous source “close to the deal” told Swisher
“Nick will be a great person to put in front of the media and consumers with [Yahoo CEO Marissa] Mayer to make Yahoo seem like it is a place that loves both entrepreneurs and mobile experiences, which in turn will presumably attract others like him.”
The teenager is reportedly charming and enthusiast—so much so that he can win over skeptical tech journalists. However, he also lives in London with his parents, and he needs to finish high school, according to Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson
The contract says D’Aloisio will work for Yahoo for the next 18 months. And it looks like he's already gotten to work. In a Tumblr post
announcing the acquisition of Summly, D'Aloisio wrote:
“After spending some time on [the Yahoo] 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.”
Yahoo could use a public relations boost after pundits and bloggers beat up the company and its new CEO Marissa Mayer for killing a work from home policy
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As for D’Aloisio, Carlson at Business Insider suggested
the young tech star
might need to grow a thicker skin before he takes on his duties. Last year, Casey Chan at Gizmodo
made the teenager cry by refusing to write about D’Aloisio’s app. Based on Chan’s recounting, it seems the teen’s pitching technique could use some work. According to Chan
“Over the course of a few days, D'Aloisio berserker barraged me with over a hundred emails … I saw him go from calm to excited to a nervous wreck to suffering a nervous break down to threatening to [go] bat shit crazy to borderline suicidal.”
Of course, D’Aloisio likely won’t be pitching the media on Yahoo’s behalf. He’ll be the subject of pitches from Yahoo’s PR department about “the young genius made millionaire, helping Yahoo become relevant again,” as Swisher put it.
Pretty good work if you can find it—especially when you’re 17.