Published on March 27th, 2013 | by Brett Harris

Nick D’Aloisio, Age 17: Selling Apps to Yahoo




Nick D’Aloisio taught himself to code when he was twelve-years-old and programmed his first app when he was fifteen. Today, at age seventeen, Nick has sold his latest app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million… Yup. $30 million.

As remarkable and “whiz-kiddish” as Nick’s story seems to be — there are several important things any young person can learn from his example. Read the following article from Reuters and then check out our commentary below.

Just do it, says Yahoo’s teen app millionaire

Reuters • March 26, 2013 • Paul Sandle

LONDON (Reuters) – Got a tech idea and want to make a fortune before you’re out of your teens? Just do it, is the advice of the London schoolboy who’s just sold his smartphone news app to Yahoo for a reported $30 million.

The money is there, just waiting for clever new moves, said 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio, who can point to a roster of early backers for his Summly app that includes Yoko Ono and Rupert Murdoch.

“If you have a good idea, or you think there’s a gap in the market, just go out and launch it because there are investors across the world right now looking for companies to invest in,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview late on Monday.

The terms of the sale, four months after Summly was launched for the iPhone, have not been disclosed and D’Aloisio, who is still studying for school exams while joining Yahoo as its youngest employee, was not saying. But technology blog AllThingsD said Yahoo paid roughly $30 million.

D’Aloisio said he was the majority owner of Summly and would now invest the money from the sale, though his age imposes legal limits for now on his access to it.

“I’m happy with that and working with my parents to go through that whole process,” he said.

D’Aloisio, who lives in the prosperous London suburb of Wimbledon, highlights the support of family and school, which gave him time off, but also, critically, the ideas that came with enthusiastic financial backers.

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Obviously, Nick had some special connections. How else can you explain financial backing from the like’s of Yoko Ono and Rupert Murdoch? But if we focus on what makes Nick exceptional we miss out on some important lessons:

First, if Nick hadn’t learn to code at twelve there would be no Summly. While you may not be able to replicate Nick’s contacts, you can replicate his hard work from a young age. Nick’s story proves (once again) that age doesn’t stop you from doing excellent work. If you have a hobby, pursue it. Start young like Nick.

Second, great ideas (plus hard work) can take you places. No one has a monopoly on great ideas. Nicks says, “If you have a good idea, or you think there’s a gap in the market, just go out and launch it.” Look around you. What needs do you see? What skills do you have? Put them together and go for it.

In other words, start young, work hard, and keep going. That’s what we learned from Nick D’Aloisio. What about you? What’s your takeaway? Share you thoughts in the comment section.

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About the Author

is co-founder of TheRebelution.com and co-author of Do Hard Things, along with his twin brother, Alex. He is married to his best friend, Ana, who blogs at AnaHarrisWrites.com. He is the founder of the Young Writers Workshop — an ongoing coaching program for serious writers.



  • skyla

    WOW…this is amazing. This makes me want to do the unthinkable and really do something hard, though a great inspiration to do big things but also a very important point that without hard work and really putting all you have into something you wont get it done. I feel this could also be applied to our spiritual life, the more effort you put in the closer you will get and the more we will be able to take away from God and His Word.
    Like Eddison said “Genius is 1% Inspiration and 99% inspiration”

    Thanks for the great lesson and video! Good job Nick!

    your sister in Christ, skyla

    • Guest

      Ummm. I think you meant 99% perspiration…
      Oops. That was already pointed out.

  • Valiant

    99% perspiration, actually. But anyway, I think this is an awesome article! I always think it’s a good idea to go do imposibble things.

  • Very interesting article. Clever video too. (-:
    It is important for us as teens to be preparing for our future, programming is an excellent way to do that. I’m currently learning computer science from an online university, udacity.com.
    Aside from the fact that he was working with code, I think it’s amazing that he applied himself to this subject and made something really cool.

    • programguy

      Let me ask you to make sure I got this straight: is taking a class (e.g. computer science) on udacity.com 100% free?

      • Stephen Emrich

        Yes, or is says it does.

      • Stephen Emrich

        Do you know if it is free?

        • Sam S.

          Hey Stephen!
          Yeah, it’s free. I *started* taking a Java class and there aren’t any strings attached. They did have a deal with a college one time that let you get credit if you paid a bit and followed special rules, but that was a while ago. All the classes can be taken for free.

          • Stephen Emrich

            Cool. I might try taking one.

  • skyla

    haha just realized my error, sorry about that

  • I love the “just do it” theme! I also love the message in this kid’s story that no one has a monopoly on great ideas.The biggest obstacle that holds me back from my dream of becoming a published writer is my own fear that what I have to say may not be unique enough. Maybe no one will read it. Maybe people will think, “I’ve heard this before.”

    But what if they don’t think that? What if I can put a twist on something that someone has heard a million times before? What if God wants to use me to say something in a way that only I can say it? What if my voice DOES make a difference?

    As I’ve struggled with the details of fufilling my dream, God keeps bringing up this phrase again and again. Just do it. Stop worrying about what might or might not happen and just do it.

    And I think that’s pretty great advice to dreamers of any age.

  • Nik

    Malala is a great example that I think teens should follow. We American teenagers often give up so easy just because– as the article said– we are teased or bullied. We get so accustomed to having the freedoms we do in this country that give up over petty things. We should, obviously, learn to be more like Malala and do hard things even at the risk of our earthly life because, as Christians, we know that it’s not the end of ALL life.

  • Rebekah Willis

    “You don’t have to know everything,” an Adobe instructor told me. My brain was fried after his lesson. “Everyone knows the old stuff. No one has a monopoly on what’s to come. Become an expert at the new stuff and you’ll be in demand.” To echo Nick, find the gap, fill the space, be of use.

  • Bethany

    Guys like that always throw me for a loop. It’s like, “Translation?” :) But that’s still pretty amazing.

  • I posted this article in the Armory Greenhouse, and I couldn’t figure why no one was responding. Now I see this had been posted on the same day :-) Really interesting. One of the thinking questions I had included in my post was:

    Is it wrong for teens doing hard things to expect lots of physical benefits (like lots of money)?

    What do you guys think?

  • programguy

    Young people can build great apps; I intend to. Thank you Nick for being another example to all of us. We can do hard things.

    • Hey Program Guy, when you design an app, come back and tell us about it. =)

      • programguy

        I love the way the new website works on small screen sizes. If I built an android app for the rebelution website, would anyone want to use it? And how could it be better than going to the website in a browser? I think I could build such an app.

        • Karate Kid

          That would be neat…when I get an Android device, I would use that.

          • programguy

            Thanks for the interest. Well, actually, I don’t think I have ever even used a real Android device yet, but I have used an emulator on my computer. So if all goes well, I will get a used device for less than $50 and start building apps. Right now I am learning HOW to build apps. It is going pretty well :)

        • Stephen Emrich

          I bet I could make an app like that…

          • Stephen Emrich

            I mean, of the Rebelution, not the 17 year old’s app.

        • Stephen Emrich

          I do too, I love the way the site lays out.
          The theme is Gonzo.

        • programguy

          Just one complaint I have about the website: when browsing in Internet Explorer 10 and 11 (at least), if I scroll with my mouse wheel, not the scroll bar, the brick background picture jumps to compensate for the scrolling. No problem in Firefox.

  • Does anyone know if this app is available on iTunes?

    • programguy

      Wow. I can’t find it.

      • It’s no longer available on iTunes because the technology was purchased by Yahoo. =P

        • programguy

          Oh, yeah.

        • Can it still be downloaded on to Apple devices?

          • Nope, I’m pretty sure you can’t get it anymore.

    • Yahoo purchasing the company was an “aquihire.” Part of the purchase agreement was that Nick D’Aloisio will work for them for three years. They had no intention of continuing to develop the app, (which I hear was actually not that great) but merely bring talented people into their company.

  • Stephen Emrich

    I am 12 and I leaned programming when I was 9 and I have made an app and I am working on several others, the details can be found here: http://pinwheelmediablog.wordpress.com/2014/01/01/new-mobile-kindle-application-on-amazon/

  • Stephen Emrich

    oops…

  • Stephen Emrich

    Man, That is soo cool!

  • Stephen Emrich

    Does anyone know what happened to the forum? I have registered several timeover the past year and I have received nothing by email or been able to log in. I am not sure what happened…

    • Sam S.

      Hey Stephen!
      That’s an excellent question. I asked Brett a few months ago, and he told me that they are no longer accepting applicants for the forum. It was highly understaffed. The discussion questions on the blog are meant to sort of recreate some aspects of the forum.
      So yeah, don’t expect an email. :(

      • Stephen Emrich

        OK. Too bad.

        • Sam S.

          Yeah. I know.

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