UK teenager launches Summly with backing from billionaires and celebs

A London teenager has become the latest talented young developer to hit the big time, with technology he created to help him with his school studies.

Summly, created by 17 year old Nick D’Aloisio, pulls in news from hundreds of sources around the internet. Nothing amazing about that, you might think. But the clever part is how it extracts key points and compiles a 400 character summary using an algorithm based on natural language processing and machine translation.

D’Aloisio says he created the original app to help him with web research for his school work.

"I was using the Internet to find more information about a particular subject, and was finding that I kept clicking through to websites that in the end didn’t have the information I needed," he wrote the app’s official website. "I wondered why there wasn’t a better way for people to preview information before they did a deep dive."

Launched into App Store as Trimit last year, the app used the technology to summarise web pages. It initially attracted over 100,000 downloads before being spotted by a venture capital firm Horizon Ventures, owned by Hong Kong billionaire Li Ka-shing, which provided $250,000 backing.

Now, with a number of celebrity supporters including Stephen Fry, Ashton Kutcher, Yoko Ono, Jawbone CEO Hosain Rahman and Zynga CEO Mark Pincus, Summly’s total raised funds are pushing $1m.

“This product has been inspired by my generation and their style of content consumption; fast and to the point,” blogged the young developer. “It will be useful for anyone who suffers from information overload and wants to consume news and other content in a seamless manner on mobile devices.”

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