It’s enough to make any corporate security chief lose sleep.
But in what is surely one of my favorite stories of the year, a 20-year-old described as an internet entrepreneur spent about two months living inside AOL headquarters in Northern California before anyone caught on! You can’t make this stuff up!
The first thing you have to know for this story to make a lot of sense is that in the Silicon Valley, technology companies like AOL treat their employees very well. Some treat them far better than others, but many offer special perks that typical companies wouldn’t dream of offering.
There are on-site gyms, constant snacks, cafeterias and even restaurants where (depending on the company) employees can sometimes get breakfast, lunch and dinner for free. Some corporations have recreation areas at their headquarters. Some have areas where you can catch a nap. A handful have their own in-house laundry service and even offer medical and dental care on-site.
So if you’re lucky enough to get access inside one of these places, you’re very fortunate.
That’s where a 20-year-old named Eric Simons with a dream to create a website designed to help teachers share ideas with each other enters the picture. He’d received a grant of $20,000 from an organization that was using AOL’s facility to help startup his website. Simons discovered that $20,000 doesn’t go that far in Northern California, and quickly realized he’d be struggling to pay the rent if he were going to devote all of his time to developing his dream.
So he took advantage of AOL’s corporate employee hospitality, choosing to sleep on couches, shower in the company’s gym, and even snatching snacks they put out daily for their workers. And all the while, in what must be an embarrassing security lapse that has probably already been corrected, the security pass he was given while he was part of the startup program apparently still worked.
I hope his site takes off. If its design is as resourceful as its creator, it just might revolutionize our education system.
We can only hope.