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Otago student gets big break as Delicious snaps up Trunk.ly

Otago Polytechnic student Alex Dong has just scored the break of his life – the creators of YouTube have acquired his online social network tool, developed with business partner Tim Bull.

Otago Polytechnic student Alex Dong has just scored the break of his life – the creators of YouTube have acquired his online social network tool, developed with business partner Tim Bull.

Alex DongTrunk.ly will be incorporated into social bookmarking site Delicious.com after being purchased by AVOS Systems, the company created by YouTube founders Chad Hurley and Steve Chen.

Founded in December 2010, Trunk.ly keeps track of the increasing amount of content users are exposed to through social networks, automatically collecting links that users share on websites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn .and storing them in one place for future reference.

“It became clear from the first discussion with Trunk.ly’s founders that our visions for the future of bookmarking and discovery were closely aligned,” said Hurley. “Their technology and insights will accelerate link-saving and searching capabilities in Delicious.”

Hurley and Chen built YouTube before selling it to Google in 2006 for $1.65 billion. After leaving Google, they purchased Delicious from Yahoo and will use Trunk.ly to power the backend of Delicious.

“We’re excited to join this stellar team and apply our bookmarking innovations to help Delicious users discover and collect the web,” said  Bull.

Bull is based in Melbourne and previouslyworked for PricewaterhouseCoopers as both development manager and global application architect. Meanwhile, Dong is currently completing a degree in Information Technology at Otago Polytechnic.

Both are likely to join the Avos team in San Francisco, although Trunk.ly will continue to operate for two months to allow users to migrate their links.

“This is exactly the innovation that Dunedin needs,” said David Quinn from Audacious in Dunedin, an organisation that encourages and supports student entrepreneurs.

Head of IT at Otago Polytechnic Lesley Smith said not only had Dong built upon his own skill set, he found the time to mentor and share his skills with other students.

"This is a remarkable achievement, testament to his vision, talent and innovation."

In September, Dong blogged about his doubts around Hurley and Chen's acquisition of Delicious. Both of them have acknowledged in interviews that they are not dedicated Delicious users themselves.

Dong said in the software world, products were closely tied to the image of their founders.

"I respect Chad and Steve. I think they form an extraordinary team and whatever they work on, they will make it great. But in the case of Delicious, I am afraid they will take it towards a direction that make the new Delicious not a Delicious any more. 

"...So they bought Delicious to build another Digg, Reddit, Hacker News or Stumbleupon, but not a better Delicious. It’s like Lady Gaga bought the Library of Congress, wanting to make it 'mainstream'."

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