January 10, 2014
When I was 17 years old, I mostly concerned myself with playing sports, illegally downloading music and quelling the latest acne flare-up.
When Nick D’Aloisio was 17, he sold his mobile app Summly to Yahoo for a cool $30 million, became the youngest entrepreneur to ever receive venture capital funding and was named “Innovator of the Year” by the Wall Street Journal.
OK, technically D’Aloisio was 10 days past his 18th birthday when WSJ bestowed the honor, but it’s no understatement to say he’s become the most impressive teenager in the business world since…ever?
Just over a week ago, D’Aloisio took the stage during the Yahoo presentation at the Consumer Electronic Show in Las Vegas (see below) to introduce his newest innovation — Yahoo News Digest.
In short — and appropriately so — this new app blends the all-in-one-feed sensibility of Twitter with the anticipation of delivery one gets from the daily newspaper. (That is, if one still subscribes.)
News Digest refreshes twice per day — morning and evening — with a dozen or so of the most important news items of the moment. Algorithms summarize and condense each story into a few simple paragraphs, but living, breathing editors curate the content and check for accuracy before each new edition gets pushed out. Each story includes “Atoms” — photos, video, map, charts and other elements to tell the story in a visually compelling manner.
Yahoo News Digest features a flawlessly beautiful design. Like, award-winning, profoundly gorgeous design. But that doesn’t tell the story of why D’Aloisio’s latest brainchild may be the formula media consumers have been waiting for.
In a hyper-competitive attention economy where news sites such as The Huffington Post publish 1,200 unique pieces of content per day and social media leaves no corner of the planet unaccounted for, it’s hard to avoid feeling like one is drowning in a sea of information. And most of it is pretty trivial. The mere pursuit of the day’s important news is too often hapless.
Yahoo News Digest restores order, ranking stories by importance (in the most general sense of the word) in each edition. In five to 10 minutes, a user can read each story, catch up on current events and carry on.
D’Aloisio best explained News Digest’s allure during his CES presentation:
“There’s something about this app that is really calming to me. A feed that scrolls forever can be engrossing. But there’s a lot to be said for an app that helps you get on with your life.”
Calming indeed. After years of trial and error, a teenager from Down Under has cracked the New Media code. Download Yahoo News Digest right now, and I guarantee it will bring back that old feeling of grabbing the daily newspaper from your front step each morning.
And keep your eyes on D’Aloisio. He’s a game changer in the truest meaning of the phrase.
January 16, 2014