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Wednesday, March 27, 2013


The Internet icon grabbed attention Monday when it announced its intention to acquire mobile news reader Summly, the brainchild of 17-year-old Nick D'Aloisio, for a reported $30 million. He promptly became Yahoo's youngest employee.

At the same time, Yahoo is embarking on an ambitious summer-long marketing campaign to woo the under-34 demographic, says Chief Marketing Officer Kathy Savitt. "We own adults 34 and older," she says. "But we plan to reintroduce Yahoo to the younger demographic."

The moves come as some younger users are showing signs of Facebook fatigue and flocking to Instagram, Pheed and Snapchat. Yahoo, with about 700 million monthly users, is seeking to mine a rich vein of 18- to 34-year-olds who are deeply engaged online and tend to spend more, analysts say.

"Yahoo was a notch away from AOL in terms of (minimal) street cred among younger users," says Greg Sterling, a social-media analyst who closely follows Yahoo. "Yahoo has an opportunity to turn that around, maybe with some sort of personal home page, profile with likes or multiuser, face-to-face communication."

To get their attention, Yahoo will showcase entertainment "on the road" in the U.S. and Europe, May 3 to July 14, with popular bands, comedians and guests, including Jay-Z, Justin Timberlake, Trey Songz and Frank Ocean.

Meanwhile, Yahoo is experiencing a resurgence on Wall Street. The Internet pioneer's stock is trading near its 52-week high of $23.88.

The acquisition of Summly and — before it — social-recommendation site Jybe, is part of a broader plan at Yahoo to create more personal experiences through desktop and mobile platforms. The company redesigned its Web page last month to create a simpler, more personal look.

"Our vision is to simplify how we get information, and we are thrilled to continue this mission with Yahoo's global scale and expertise," D'Aloisio, who came up with a mobile app when he was 15, said on Summly's site. "After spending some time on campus, I discovered that Yahoo has an inspirational goal to make people's daily routines entertaining and meaningful, and mobile will be a central part of that vision."

Yahoo will shut down the Summly app, which aggregates news stories and images, but incorporate the technology into existing Yahoo products.

Jon Swartz, USA TODAY, @jswartz

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