What our kids can learn from 17 year old Nick D’Aloisio selling Summly for US$ 30 million to Yahoo!
It has to be probably the biggest tech story this week online, and offline. A 15 year old creates a mobile app called Summly 18 months ago that makes it easy to summarize the deluge of news content online in a simple and user-friendly manner using an algorithm. He gets a couple of rounds of funding after that from various sources and improves the product which is yet to make single cent. Earlier this week, its announced with much fanfare that the now 17 year old Nick D’Aloisio has sold Summly to Yahoo! for an estimated US$ 30 million, making him a millionaire in the process. Whoa! Did that just really happen?! Yes. It. Just. Did!
What Nick D’Aloisio just did is become the poster child for geeky kids globally showing that you can create value with your time and creativity at a young age that gets the attention of the world. It goes to prove that content creation rather than content consumption is really where the action is, even for nerdy 15 year olds. Indeed, we live in a paradigm as Parents where we need to consider the possibility that in an increasingly digital and mobile era, we have to ensure our kids become the content creators of the future, and not just consumers. Put. That. XBOX. PS3. Wii. iPad. Down. Kids!
I wrote a piece on this blog last year that exactly mirrors what just happened with Nick D’Aloisio. There has never been a better time in the world and increasingly in Africa for our children to become leaders in the global mobile ecosystem. As it is, Africa is the world’s fastest growing market for mobile device adoption with an estimated 780 mobile subscribers. Smartphones and in particular inexpensive Android mobile devices are proliferating the continent and the call to action is to NOT just use them or give them to our Kids to consume digital content – we should see these devices as computers that will liberate them to become global content creators, just like Nick D’Aloisio.
Going forward, rather than our kids spending time playing games online or on their game consoles, we should get them onto web sites like CodeAcademy.com so that they become “fluent” in computer programming at a very young age. We need to use the largely underutilized broadband now available via mobile devices throughout Africa to take advantage and level the playing field. The irony however is that our kids are spending more time watching YouTube and playing video games rather than creating the videos or coding the games. This quite simply, has to change. The future belongs to the digital content creators like 17 year old Nick D’Aloisio, who arguably has just made more money than any of us will ever see in multiple lifetimes. Food for thought indeed. Make it so 🙂