Joining the social network: London student sells app for £20m - Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 26 March 2013

They say you can only truly understand the internet if you were born into it - a “digital native” - and this week we have seen yet more evidence of that. A 17-year-old London schoolboy has become the latest in a line of technology prodigies from around the world to hit the big time after he sold the iPhone app he created for a reported £20 million.


Joining the social network: London student sells app for £20m

Today's news, tomorrow's lesson - 26 March 2013


By Joseph Lee

They say you can only truly understand the internet if you were born into it – a “digital native” – and this week we have seen yet more evidence of that. A 17-year-old London schoolboy has become the latest in a line of technology prodigies from around the world to hit the big time after he sold the iPhone app he created for a reported £20 million.

Nick D’Aloisio had the idea for Summly while revising for his history GCSE and wishing he had a way of easily condensing information.

The app, which automatically summarises news stories in snippets of about 400 characters, attracted the attention of internet giant Yahoo! Yesterday, it went on to buy Nick’s embryonic business.

Summly has been downloaded almost a million times and earned the backing of investors ranging from Stephen Fry to Rupert Murdoch.

But Nick will remain the majority shareholder, meaning he has joined the ranks of tech millionaire prodigies such as Microsoft founder Bill Gates, who launched his company at the age of 20, and Facebook’s chief executive Mark Zuckerberg, who became a billionaire by the time he was 23.

Nick taught himself to code at the age of 12, after Apple launched its App Store. Later, he was inspired by The Social Network, David Fincher’s 2010 film about the creation of Facebook.

“The opportunity is ridiculous. There’s no upper limit as to where you can go,” Nick told the British press. “I was as low as you go, a kid with no experience, and I got to this position just through an idea. If the concept’s good enough then it will work. People are looking for it.”

Under the terms of the deal, Nick will become a Yahoo! employee for 18 months but will remain in the UK and work from the company’s London offices. He is currently taking a break from his schoolwork at King’s College School in Wimbledon, South West London, but he hopes to take A levels in maths, history and philosophy in 2014 and eventually to study philosophy, politics and economics at the University of Oxford.

“Education is always there,” he said. “I can go back a year later, or five years later. In technology, you have a one-off chance to find a gap in the market and really go for it.”

Surely both Zuckerberg and Gates would agree – they both dropped out of college to develop their businesses.



Questions:

  • What is 'coding'? How could you learn more about it?
  • Do you use apps? Which do you find most useful? Are there any apps that help you to do things you could not do otherwise?
  • Nick created his app after wishing he had a tool to help him with his revision. What tasks do you wish you had help with and what kind of a tool could make those tasks easier?
  • If you became a millionaire at the age of 17, would you drop out of school or stay and finish your education? Discuss your reasons.

Resources for you


Enterprise Quiz

  • This handout is a great way to introduce the idea of enterprise to your students.

The Apprentice Game

  • A fun business game and great introduction to financial risks and rewards.

Entrepreneurial Qualities

  • In this BBC Class Clips video a panel of business experts describe the qualities they believe make a good entrepreneur.

Design a Chocolate Bar

  • Encourage the entrepreneurial spirit in your class with this fun task.


Further news resources


First News front page

  • Help your pupils understand the features of the front page of a newspaper.

Write all about it

  • Get students creating their own news report with this step-by-step guide.

What is the News?

  • A sociological and media perspective on what makes an event 'newsworthy'.

On the box

  • Help pupils to write their own TV news broadcast with this handy PowerPoint.

Structuring stories

  • A scheme of work to help students structure news stories.

In the news this week


Freezing conditions and snow continued to cause major disruption across the UK this morning, leaving thousands of homes without power and many roads impassable.

Chancellor George Osborne sets out his spending plans for the next year.

Ten years ago, armed forces from the US, Great Britain, Australia, Poland and other nations invaded Iraq, then ruled by dictator Saddam Hussein.

People in Cyprus have been shocked to learn that its government plans to take almost 10 per cent of their savings.



In the news archive index