When most people his age spend their time on Facebook, Michael Sayman spends his time in Facebook. In June 2014, at just 17 years of age, Michael bagged an internship at Facebook in Menlo Park, California; Computer Science students would kill for that internship. After the internship was over, he was offered the position of a Software Engineer in August 2014. Needless to say, he was Facebook’s youngest full-time employee. His only insecurity was that people wouldn’t take him seriously as he had been wearing braces at that time. Sayman says how he sometimes have to remind himself that all of it is real because of how surreal it seems.
Sayman’s love for Club Penguin when he was 11, is mostly why he is here. Club Penguin is a massively multiplayer online game, involving a virtual world that contained a range of online games and activities. He used to read blogs about the game and wanted to write one eventually. He then developed a mobile app for his website which got more downloads than his website ever got views, because of which he decided to shift his focus on developing apps. He adds how he never set out to learn programming and that it was just a tool he needed to build what he wanted.
His school did not offer computer classes. So when Sayman was 13, he started to learn how to code through free web tutorials and blogs. He is thankful to the Internet without which he says he could not have achieved what he did. He convinced his mother to loan him $100 so that he could register for the iOS App Store and sell his product. He promised that he would work in the restaurant they owned, if he can’t make the money back.
Inspired by a game that Sayman’s sister and her friends made up, he developed an app called 4 Snaps which turned his life around. Users take turns snapping pictures with a common theme and guessing the word. The game was released in the App Store in August 2013 and saw hundreds of thousands of downloads, making it even more popular than apps like Twitter and Starbucks. When Facebook noticed his app gaining popularity, they invited him and his mother to their office in Menlo Park to visit Mark Zuckerberg which was when he was offered the internship.
In 2010, his family lost their small business and were financially struggling. They even planned on moving back to Peru, his mother’s native, but managed to pull through with his app sales. He mentions how at one time, he was stressed out worrying whether he would be able to pay the bills and his sister’s tuition but does not have to fret anymore and adds how being able to contribute to his family financially is his proudest accomplishment to date. He plans on attending college to study Computer Engineering someday.