Yahoo's Teen Millionaire Not so Unusual

Yahoo’s deal to buy D’Aloisio’s Summly shines a light on tech deals aimed at innovation.

17 year-old Briton Nick D'Aloisio, who this week sold his mobile news reader app Summly to Yahoo! is pictured in central London on March 26, 2013. Yahoo! announced plans on March 25, 2013 to buy app Summly from D'Aloisio, the London teenager who invented it, likely transforming him into one of the world's youngest self-made multimillionaires. The company did not disclose the terms of the deal it struck with D'Aloisio, but the London Evening Standard said Yahoo! would pay between 20 and 40 million GBP (30 to 60 million USD).

17 year-old Briton Nick D'Aloisio, who this week sold his mobile news reader app Summly to Yahoo! is pictured in London on March 26, 2013.

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The art of "acqhiring" tech talent. Hamadeh calls such deals "acqhires" because the main point of some deals is to add creative talent, and the kind of buzz that a hipster techie like D'Aliosio brings. In the hyper-competitive, fast-moving world of social media and mobile computing, the tech giants are not waiting for years for venture capital-funded startups to acquire and nurture companies. PrivCo actually ranks the top 5 users last year of the acqhire, again a recent phenomenon, and something Hamadeh says "Facebook early on pioneered and mastered, frankly, and now others have followed."

For those trying to steal a page from D'Aloisio in hopes of becoming an overnight millionaire at 17, there might be easier role models to follow. D'Aloisio started programming his own applications when he was 12, and since then has launched a half-dozen successful ones. On LinkedIn, he lists his core skills and interests: "Passionate about Algorithms, Artificial Intelligence, Design, Product, Mobile Applications, Natural Language Processing, Maths, Typography, Curiosity and Learning."

[Read: Steve Jobs Obsessed Over the Competition Does Tim Cook?]

He does not mention his sales and promotion skills, but D'Aloisio has a reputation as a relentless competitor who has managed to sell big-name investors on his tech products—and journalists on his wunderkind story. Even before Yahoo discovered him, he had raised funds from Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, Rupert Murdoch, Yoko Ono and Ashton Kutcher, among others. Apple anointed his Intuitive Touch application among "Best Apps of 2012." Not bad for a teenager, though he is not a billionaire like Mark Zuckerberg yet. But his Doogie Howser tale has already entered the lore with Zuck's born-in-a-dorm social network, Bill Gates's dropping out of Harvard to start Microsoft and Steve Jobs's garage computer that became Apple.