Teenage Tech Stars
yearbook in 2005. Since then, MyYearbook’s net worth has grown to $10m. Pittsburgh’s Ryan Allis was only 11 years old when his entrepreneurial instincts saw him set up a computer services business charging $5 an hour. Allis went on to co-found email marketing software company iContact and in 2012, he, along with his partners, sold the business to Vocus for $169m, making him a 27 year old millionaire. Allis’ net worth currently stands at a cool $40m. The likes of Stripe, iContact and MyYearbook.com were created out of a need for something more efficient and streamlined and more importantly, were created by natives to the technology. Simple problem solving is at the core, an approach very much in line with Steve Jobs’ belief that everyone should learn how to program in order to learn how to think.
Going Native Nick D’Aloisio Nick D’Aloisio, the 17 year old who has sold an app to Yahoo for £20 million taught himself to code at the age of 12. He later invented Summly, an app that reduces lengthy news stories to mobile-friendly snippets and a prototype was sufficient to attract a £200,000 investment from Honk Kong billionaire Li Kashing. A year later and his bank account balance was in the black to the tune of £20 billion. Nick is now taking a sabbatical from school with plans to return to education at some unspecified time in the future.
in 2007 which attracted Silicon Valley funding and eventually saw an acquisition of €3.2m from Canadian firm Live Current Media. The deal instantly propelled the duo to millionaire status at just 17 and 19 years of age. Another set of siblings, Catherine and Dave Cook, founded MyYearbook.com at just 15 and 17 years old respectively – today, their creation is America’s third most popular social network. After securing investment of $250,000 from their older brother, they managed to launch their interactive school 26 | Silicon Valley Global
The distinct advantage that today’s digital natives have is that never before has it been possible to simply delve into an industry with no prior experience and be judged on merit rather than age or qualification. No other sector has really evolved to be quite as open or accessible as IT. These youths have grown up with technology and are often self-taught due to a genuine curiosity in the digital platforms their lives are increasingly displayed and dependent upon – in effect, this DIY movement is steadily growing and being curated by its enthusiastic creators. Dylan Collins describes the leverage that this generation has over the rest as second-mover advantage. “They can build on frameworks that simply weren’t available ten years ago at a cost which is a tiny fraction of what it once was. They’re also not stuck with legacy tech on desktop browsers; they can go straight to tablet and mobile.” Just how far these natives are going to go and how young the kids at the helm will be, remains to be seen. “Kids are already disrupting the global entertainment industry through their (user-driven) activity in Moshi Monsters, Angry Birds and others,” explains Collins. “I think it’s highly likely that the next Notch (founder of online game Minecraft) is going to be very young, somewhere between 12-15. Ten years from now, I think that this generation will have built their own
Grand Ambition Jordan Casey, a 13 year old computer whiz kid from County Waterford caught the eye of Dragons and technology entrepreneurs Barry O’Sullivan and Sean O’Sullivan when he appeared on Dragon’s Den seeking investment for his Gaming company. Jordan announced himself as a rising star in the Gaming World when he became one of Europe’s youngest IOS app developers following the launch of his game Alien Ball Vs Humans on the app store. He taught himself to code at the age of nine and his goal is now to build up the company and make it one of the largest gaming companies in the world.
Facebooks, Twitters and vasts amounts of the games which they play on mobile and tablet.” With no experience of the world prior to the internet, this assertive cohort has the benefit of knowing no constraints – if they can learn it, they can create it; they can push boundaries and solve problems. The future of digital is in very capable hands indeed.
Silicon Valley Global Magazine