Silicon Valley group paid $30m in 2011 to 2017 year old who won high-profile backing.
When 17-year-old Nick D’Aloisio sold his news aggregation app to Yahoo for $30m, it seemed like the success story that summed up the dotcom boom, generating hype and hope that a teenager seemed to understand how young people consumed information and used technology better than most corporate veterans.
But, four years later, the Silicon Valley technology group has announced plans to shut the News Digest app built using his technology at the end of this month.
Yahoo, which was sold to Verizon earlier this year for $4.5bn, has been directing users towards its Newsroom app instead, which emphasises social elements, such as users being able to post stories and share their reactions to them. The new app does not use the technology developed by Mr Daloisio, who left Yahoo two years ago.
Mr Daloisio, now 21, developed Summly, an iPhone app that condensed full-length stories into bite-size nuggets after teaching himself how to code at age 12 and then making iPhone apps in his bedroom. The app was designed to help users deal with the information overload spawned by the internet, with its algorithm categorising live news feeds into summaries that fit on to the screen of a smartphone.
He told the Financial Times in 2012 that it resonated with his peers. My age group likes to get content in concise bullet points . Our summaries are easy to read, fit the screen, look beautiful and download quickly, he said.
Mainstream media groups adopted many similar tenets, with publications such as the New York Times and the Economist launching their own smartphone apps that offered a brief selection of important news.
Summly topped the App store charts and secured the support of prominent investors, including billionaire Li Ka shing. It also received backing from a host of high-profile tech founders including Brian Chesky of Airbnb and Mark Pincus of gaming group Zynga, and celebrities such as actors Stephen Fry and Ashton Kutcher.
After the acquisition, Mr Daloisio who is from London, began working for Yahoo and helped develop News Digest, which used both algorithms and human editorial judgment to pick out stories from online publications.
He is now studying for a computing and philosophy degree at Oxford university and has recently published a paper in a peer-reviewed philosophy journal.
Mr D’Aloisio declined to comment on the closure of the app.
A spokeswoman for Yahoo said This is something that has been on the road map for a while and is an opportunity for users to get the same great news coverage but the added bonus of being able to join the conversation with a passionate community and world class editors.