An English-Australian computer programmer who designed an app and sold it to Yahoo for millions of dollars is starting a degree at Hertford this week.
Nick D’Aloisio, who launched text summary software Summly at the age of 15 and received investment of $250,000 from a billionaire a year later, will study Computer Science and Philosophy at the Catte Street college. He then sold the technology to Yahoo at the age of 17 for an estimated $30m.
Regarding his move to Oxford, he claimed his “main motivation” was “actually to interface with people my age who are obsessed with these problems and senior professors who will add insight. It will be very hard, I’m expecting to find it very difficult. But it’s really important to put yourself in situations where you’re not going to coast.”
The WIRED article about D’Aloisio’s move to Oxford said that readers “can probably expect to see him debating the ethics of sentient beings with an Oxford fellow, getting a team of AI enthusiasts together for his next company, and perhaps studying up for a spot on University Challenge.”
It quoted D’Aloisio as saying that “Jeremy Paxman mentioned Summly the other night on it and it was one of my favourite things, I freaked out”.
Students were torn over the arrival of the entrepreneur to Oxford. One said: “I hope I get to meet him, he sounds like a very cool guy.” However, another said: “If I was him, I wouldn’t be bothering. He’s clearly not interested in going to Bridge or sailing into a job at JP Morgan when he graduates, so what’s the point in coming to Oxford?”
An MA in Computer Science and Philosophy is a four-year degree, meaning it is likely that he will graduate in 2018. At the time of writing, D’Aloisio had not yet been added to Nexus, rendering him uncontactable by his new fellow freshers.