The hilarious news that a 19-year-old entrepreneur secretly lived on AOL's Palo Alto campus for months reminds us of a very similar story from 2000 and makes us wonder just how closely we're repeating the history of the 90s tech boom and bust.
As CNET's Daniel Terdiman reports, Eric Simons squatted on the AOL campus, eating their food and using their gym while working on his education start-up. Here's how:
At 7 a.m. -- and no later than 8 a.m. so he'd be safely out of his field bed before anyone else arrived -- he'd wake up, go down to the gym for a workout and a shower, and then go back upstairs and scarf a breakfast of cereal and water or Coke. Then he'd work all day, finally waiting until everyone else in the building had gone home before returning to one of his three favored couches.
How entrepreneurial! And yet, how... familiar. As Fast Company's Noah Robischon pointed out on Twitter, the story closely echoes that of former Late Show with David Letterman writer Rodney Rothman, who in 2000 showed up for a job he never got at an unnamed tech company's offices. As he wrote in an essay in The New Yorker, his "colleagues" were too distracted with the swelling dot-com bubble to notice him for several weeks. (Details in his piece were subject to some scrutiny and a subsequent correction in the magazine so maybe Simons' tale is more 'life imitating fiction' than anything else?)
Still, you see, even what seem like iconic stories of young internet rogues in Silicon Valley 2012 echo those of the '90s tech boom, providing us with another silly point of evidence in an otherwise serious theory that the last tech bubble bursting is a history we're doomed to repeat—even down to the silliest anecdote. Anyway, Rothman's sketchy details aside, he's been pretty successful since then. He went fully Hollywood and recently produced the Five Year Engagement, so Simons should cross his fingers that history really does repeat.