If you break down any organisation to its indivisible unit, it always comes down to people. Regardless of whether it’s mining asteroids or building mobile apps, someone needs to create something in order to generate some form of utility or economic value. Obviously, some people create better stuff than others.
Now, I’ve always thought that when it comes to building companies it’s 50% about product, 40% about people and 10% about luck. Products are created by people, so abstractly speaking building companies is 90% about people. And the general definition of luck is that opportunity meets preparation, which also requires people, so in it’s most abstract form you could argue that companies are 100% about people. So if companies are all about people, it goes without saying that great companies are all about great people.
I’ve never met Nick D’Aloisio but he seems to be really good at building networks of people quickly (regardless of whether it’s investors, journalists or public company CEOs). I mean, the kid is 17, he’s raised money from some pretty high-profile investors and by the looks of it he’s also met all the right people along the way (including Marissa Mayer).
So here’s why the Yahoo – Summly deal kinda makes sense: in order for Y! to become a great company (again) they need great people and Nick will now attract a lot of smart, young people towards Yahoo! Is that worth $30M? I’m not sure. Is it worth trying, given Yahoo!’s size and ambitions? You bet.