The most surprising part of this story for me is that AOL is still around:
For someone with neither money nor an aversion to sleeping on others’ couches, the AOL building had plenty of allure. “They had a gym there with showers,” Simons said. “I’d take a shower after work. I was like, ‘I could totally work here…They have food upstairs, they have every drink on tap. This would be a sweet place to live.'”
Note that Simons said he would work there. After his four months in the incubator, he was used to toiling away at ClassConnect inside the building, and with other programs, from the Stanford-focused incubator StartX to AOL’s own First Floor Labs also taking up space there, there was no shortage of non-AOL employees shuffling in and out all the time. But Simons was intent on launching his startup, so why not find a desk and pound away for 12 to 16 hours a day?
“There were so many people going in and out each day,” he said. “They’d say, ‘Oh, he just works, here, he’s working late every night. Wow, what a hard worker.'”
$30 a month
Having spent several months legitimately working in the building, often quite late, Simons had noticed that although there were security guards with nightly rounds, there were at least three couches that seemed outside those patrols. Plus, they looked fairly comfortable. He claimed them.
This was his routine: He’d work until midnight or later, and then fall asleep around 2 a.m. on one of the couches. 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.