After his time at AOL in an education-oriented entrepreneurial incubator called Imagine K12 ended last fall, 19-year-old Eric Simons from Illinois felt he still had more he could accomplish there. But instead of going through the hassle of negotiating with the program directors or the folks in HR to let him stay on and continue his work, he decided to take matters into his own handsâ€” he devised a plan to continue working at the AOL campus in secret, using an access card that had never been deactivated, CNET revealed in a story today.
Even though he had access to the sprawling campus in Palo Alto, CA, and plenty of people in the building knew his face after four months in the incubator program, Simons still needed a place to sleep. His housing arrangement had expired and he couldn't afford to get an apartment in Silicon Valley. So he decided he would sleep at AOL as well.
For two months after he was supposed to have gone home to Chicago, he worked all day at the Palo Alto campus and slept on out-of-the-way couches after everyone had left. Early in the mornings, he would shower and work out in the on-site gym while waiting for an appropriate hour to return to his desk.
The ruse worked for a while, and Simons even got his expenses down to $30 a month thanks to free cafeteria food. But one day a security guard finally caught him asleep on a couch at 6:00 AM. The jig was up.
"It was always our intention to facilitate entrepreneurialism in the Palo Alto office," said David Temkin, senior vice president of Mail and Mobile for AOL in a statement to CNET. We just didn't expect it to work so well."