Shocker! Yahoo whiz kid likes Snapchat

At LeWeb in Paris, 18-year-old Nick D'Aloisio, who joined Yahoo when it acquired his company, talks about the entrepreneurial spirit.

Yahoo product manager Nick D'Aloisio at LeWeb on Tuesday in Paris. Stephen Shankland/CNET

Nick D'Aloisio sounds like every other 18-year-old when singing the praises of Snapchat.

Of course, not a lot of other teenagers have created their own startup and sold it to Yahoo. Or have participated in a Q&A session at the LeWeb technology conference.

D'Aloisio, who sold his summary app, Summly, to Yahoo for reportedly $30 million, was on stage on Tuesday at LeWeb in Paris to talk about his experiences at Yahoo and being an entrepreneur. The presentation was available via a live stream.

Amid a potpourri of topics at LeWeb, D'Aloisio talked a bit about Snapchat and the value of transiency in many cases. While he conceded that there are benefits to having a permanent database of video, information, or other content, he said that there are certain contexts where ephemeral media made more sense.

He cited, as an example, a text message exchange or private conversation, where things are spoken in the heat of moment, and where he wouldn't necessarily want it coming back in five years.

D'Aloisio was a captivating mix of energy and self-deprecating humility and showed a surprising amount of corporate savvy at his young age. He demurred and danced around multiple questions about the exact purchase price of Summly and how much he personally got out of the deal.

Talking about his experiences at Yahoo, he said the last nine months "have been really fun," and that he has learned a lot. He said that there was a startup culture with an entrepreneurial attitude.

D'Aloisio, who is completing school on the side even as he works as a product manager for Yahoo, said he would like to see more of an entrepreneurial spirit in the classroom, and for it to be more culturally acceptable to think about starting a company, as opposed to joining a company.

Too often students are taught that failure is a taboo, he said, when it should be considered a learning experience.

D'Aloisio said his long-term goal is to start another company, although he didn't provide details on the business or timing.

Corrected at 11:37 a.m. PT: the story previously got D'Aloisio's age wrong.

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About the author

Roger Cheng is the executive editor in charge of breaking news for CNET News. Prior to this, he was on the telecommunications beat and wrote for Dow Jones Newswires and The Wall Street Journal for nearly a decade. He's a devoted Trojan alum and Los Angeles Lakers fan.

 

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