Thursday 18 January 2018

Teenager squatted in AOL's offices for two months unnoticed

Simons told technology website CNET: 'There were so many people going in and out each day. They'd say, 'Oh, he just works, here, he's working late every night. Wow, what a hard worker.'' Photo: Reuters
Simons told technology website CNET: 'There were so many people going in and out each day. They'd say, 'Oh, he just works, here, he's working late every night. Wow, what a hard worker.'' Photo: Reuters

Nick Allen in Los Angeles

A 19-YEAR-OLD technology entrepreneur lived unnoticed in the Silicon Valley offices of internet giant AOL for two months before being discovered.

Eric Simons, from Chicago, slept on sofas, ate free in cafeterias, and used his days to work on his own start up company, offering teachers the chance to share lesson plans.



Other employees assumed he was a colleague and admired his strong work ethic. Simons would already be in the gym when they arrived at 7am, and he always stayed latest in the office at night.



Simons told technology website CNET: "There were so many people going in and out each day. They'd say, 'Oh, he just works, here, he's working late every night. Wow, what a hard worker.'"



During his first month Simons estimated he spent only $30 (£20) of his own money, mostly on occasional trips out to McDonald's. He kept his clothes in a gym locker where he also showered.



The teenager, who had only finished high school a few months earlier, gained access to the offices when he was part of an official education



programme. But when that ended he found his security badges still worked so he stayed.



He was eventually rumbled by a security guard who found him asleep on a sofa at 6am in the company's office in Palo Alto.



A spokesman for AOL said: "It was always our intention to facilitate entrepreneurialism in the Palo Alto office – we just didn't expect it to work so well."

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