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The secret of how to live at AOL (pictures)

For two months last fall, 19-year-old entrepreneur Eric Simons lived at AOL's Palo Alto, Calif., building. He kept his stuff in a locker, showered in its gym, ate its food, and slept on couches. Then he got kicked out.

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CNET Reviews staff
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1 of 9 Eric Simons

Comfy bed

Last November and December, 19-year-old entrepreneur Eric Simons, low on money as he built his startup ClassConnect, started living surreptitiously in AOL's Palo Alto, Calif., building. For two months, he slept on couches that he discovered were off building security's rounds.

Eventually, he was discovered and kicked out. But before that happened, he was living on a dollar a day and enjoying a prime Palo Alto address. Even if he had to hide to do so.

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2 of 9 Eric Simons

The locker

Simons was able to access the AOL building as a member of the Imagine K12 incubator program that was housed there. He had a badge that gave him access to the building, but even after his time in the incubator ended, his badge still worked.

AOL's building has a gym, and Simons used it daily, both to shower, and to store his few extra pieces of clothing in a locker.

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3 of 9 Eric Simons/ClassConnect

Eric Simons

An entrepreneur from an early age, Eric Simons started ClassConnect while part of the Imagine K12 incubator program. Now, he's received $50,000 in seed funding and has been able to move into a Palo Alto house.
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4 of 9 Eric Simons

AOL couch

During his two months living at AOL, Simons identified three couches that he could sleep on without being discovered.
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5 of 9 Screen shot by CNET

AOL in Palo Alto

AOL's Palo Alto, Calif., building sits on some of the most desirable real estate in Silicon Valley. Just down the street from famous Page Mill Road, the campus takes up a great deal of real estate and is home to incubators, Stanford's StartX program, and a number of AOL departments.
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6 of 9 Eric Simons

Kitchen

Part of Simons' reasoning for living at AOL was that he was out of money. But being inside the building at night allowed him to eat the food and drink the beverages the company makes available to its employees in its kitchens.
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7 of 9 Eric Simons

Soda machine

However, Simons says he quickly tired of eating the kind of food AOL made available in its kitchens.
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8 of 9 Eric Simons

Bunks

After getting his initial seed funding, Simons was able to move into a house in Palo Alto. But in order to offset some of the costs, he is renting out bunks in a bedroom on Airbnb and has fashioned the dwelling as a hacker house.
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9 of 9 Eric Simons

Back yard

The backyard of Simons' Palo Alto house.

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