Summly acquired by Yahoo(!/?)

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In another Silicon Valley strange turn of events, Summly has been acquired by Yahoo for a rather grand sum of $30 million. Summly is, of course, the highly publicised application that in some way has a young entrepreneur named Nick D'Aloisio involved.

There’s been a great debate around what ‘Summly’ actually is. Is it really the product of a lone-genius as some of the media portray? Many articles have focused on this fact, with Gizmodo taking it’s typically controversial stance on the issue, whereas TechCrunch revealed D’Aloisio to be either someone with his head screwed on straight, or a fantastic actor. All of this is ultimately tabloid fodder; a lot worse has been revealed about much older and should-know-better operations.

However, what is certainly up for debate is what Yahoo! have actually bought. Yahoo! have outright stated that they will shut down Summly and integrate the team and/or features into new and existing assets. Summly on the other hand freely admit that their selling point, the summarising wizardry, is licensed from SRI. So, Yahoo!, what have you bought?

Yahoo! could be leaping towards relevance in the mobile space, one acquisition at a time. A young, intelligent and well spoken mobile-savvy spokesperson is something that the company need in spades if they are to remain relevant. Some, namely those with some investment acumen in the industry, are outraged.

I think it would be fair to say that the Summly sale is a result of savvy design, investment and marketing over true technological triumph. The technology is not new but it has been implemented well. The investors saw an opportunity to make value out of a succinct product with personality and hype, and sell it (for a lot!).

The losers in this whole affair may be the under-the-radar innovative IP-heavy news products not getting the recognition they deserve. Thankfully, for those products, Google Reader’s shutdown has come to the accidental rescue.

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