17 years — old enough to work with Mark Zuckerberg at Facebook
Only 4 percent of Facebook employees are Latinos. Despite this small percentage, Latinos can chalk up a great score — one of them, Michael Sayman, is the San Francisco technology company's youngest employee.
This early developer’s career began years ago when Sayman was only 13 in Miami where he lived, and still lives, with his parents, both of whom are immigrants, his mother from Peru and his father from Bolivia. It was then that he learned programming through YouTube videos, solving his queries and questions thanks to Google.
The boy, at that time, was a huge fan of a Disney online game known as Club Penguin, so he first created a webpage using WordPress and then an app to share tricks and tips on the game. In order to appear as a developer in the Apple App Store, he asked his mother for $100, promising that if he did not return the money he would work at the restaurant she managed.
Two days later he already had enough money to settle his debt. A bit later, when his first check arrived, his mother realized that Sayman made more money than she did. In 2012, he was still programing apps when his mother told him that they would have to return to Peru. Michael’s father had been laid off and the restaurant did not generate enough to cover all their expenses.
Michael, however, did not want to leave the United States. In the end, they stayed in Miami. They moved to a smaller apartment and he began to take charge of the mortgage and pay for his and his sister’s schooling. It was a while later when she became a type of muse for what then became one of Michael’s greatest achievements.
Once, while he was watching her take photos and send them to her friends, he thought that it would be a great idea for a cell phone game. So, he programmed an app that allows users to take four images and send them to friends. The first to guess the common concept of the images wins. 4Snaps was a huge success at the App Store, where in just a month it had over 600,000 downloads, earning him a ticket to Facebook, though in an atypical manner.
One day, the server hosting the app notified him that with 200,000 daily users, he could not continue to use the free version of the service. After the young programmer told them that even though he was only 17 years old, he could cover large expenses, they adjusted the price and kept his name. Months later, when Facebook purchased Parse, someone in Human Resources again contacted him, inviting him to visit Facebook’s offices.
He traveled there with his mother and it was Mark Zuckerberg himself who proposed that he do an internship there during the summer. Once he finishes, he will return to Florida, where he will begin college. As he told the newspaper El País, he would have liked to attend Stanford or a university in the Valley, but “cannot afford the price” and has only been offered a scholarship in his state — a problem, just like those of any other 17 year old faces.