At age 21, online app designer Michael Sayman is already a millionaire. The software engineer of Peruvian and Bolivian descent made history by becoming Facebook’s youngest employee and currently works at Google. But his road to financial security was no easy trek. Sayman shared his unique success story with Univision’s news show Aquí y Ahora.
Barely a teen when he taught himself to code using online tutorials on Google, the Internet whiz spent long nights on his computer designing his own apps during his high school years. The first one he created was at age 13 — a guide to a Club Penguin game that he sold to Apple. “I earned like $300 a day,” he said. “Then I started getting $6,000 or $10,000 a month,” he said of his first business venture.
Sayman grew up in a family that often struggled to make ends meet. After the recession left his dad without a job, their home in Miami, Florida, where Sayman grew up, was foreclosed on in 2012. They considered moving back to Peru. However, with his income, the teen convinced them to stay in the United States and move into a smaller place. At age 16, after teaching himself more complicated coding, he created another app, the multi-user photo-word guessing game 4Snaps. It became one of the most downloaded apps of its time, outranking companies like Lyft and Starbucks. Sayman was able to take on mortgage payments and other expenses. “Sometimes I’m embarrassed to say everything Michael did for us,” his mother, Cristina Sayman, told Pando. “It’s like he became the father of the family. It’s crazy.”
He eventually caught the attention of Facebook’s founder. “I got an email from Mark Zuckerberg and I thought: This can’t be. This is a lie,” he recounts. Sayman was invited to meet with Zuckerberg, and started at Facebook as an intern to be hired at the social media company when he turned 18.
At age 21, he got another big job offer. This time it was from Internet giant Google who hired him as an engineer. His mission at Google is confidential, he says (he’s reportedly been at work on the Google Assistant). “Oh my God, I became a millionaire before age 21? What?” he adds with a laugh. “I can’t believe it!”