Michael Sayman

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Michael Sayman
RSM1 in Pompeii.jpg
Sayman in 2019
Born (1996-08-24) August 24, 1996 (age 25)
NationalityPeruvian, Bolivian, American
Occupationmobile application entrepreneur, author
Notable work
  • 4 Snaps
  • Instagram Stories
  • App Kid: How a Child of Immigrants Grabbed a Piece of the American Dream

Michael Arthur Sayman (born August 24, 1996), is a Peruvian-Bolivian-American mobile application entrepreneur, software engineer, political activist,[1] and author.[2] He is best known for creating top-charting apps as a teenager[3] to provide for his family during the Great Recession,[4][5][6] as well as his subsequent work at Facebook.[7][8] Described by Semana as "the most influential Latino in Silicon Valley",[9] in 2019, Sayman was included on Forbes's 30 Under 30 list,[10] and has additionally been featured at TED.[11]

Sayman published his first app to the App Store (iOS) when he was 13 years old.[12] He later gained recognition from Mark Zuckerberg with his launch of 4 Snaps, a turn-based photo game, in his junior year of high school.[13] Zuckerberg then hired Sayman, becoming Facebook's "teen-in-residence" at 18,[14][15] taking part in the creation of Instagram Stories.[7][16] His success with mobile application development grew in his teenage years, generating millions in revenue as a high school student.[17] At age 18, he was described by CNET as one of the 20 Latinos with the biggest influence in the tech industry.[18]

Personal life[edit]

Michael was born in Miami, Florida in 1996 to Bolivian father Miguel Sayman and Peruvian mother Maria Cristina Gálvez Sayman.[19][20] A large part of his life is defined by effects the Great Recession had on his childhood.[21][22]

In 2010, when Sayman was 13 years old, his parents lost their jobs and were forced to foreclose their home.[23] His mother considered having them move back to Peru. Sayman insisted they remain in the United States, and that he would pay for everything.[8][6] Throughout his adolescence, he provided for his family via the money he earned publishing apps on the App Store.[24] In an interview with People magazine regarding his teenage years, Sayman said there were moments in which he did not know how his family would be able to afford to buy food or pay the electricity bill.[25][17]

In 2014, as tech companies were flying Sayman out to tour their campuses and speak at conferences, he still owed tuition to Belen Jesuit Preparatory School, the private high school he attended.[26] The school refused to give him his graduation certificate due to his inability to pay the outstanding balance he owed.[26]

In August 2018, Sayman publicly came out as gay in an interview with People en Español.[27][28] He said in the interview that he chose to come out because he believed that "this will be able to help other Latinos who go through the same situation."[17][29]

Programming career[edit]

Early career[edit]

Sayman taught himself programming through tutorials he found via Google.[8]

In 2013, Sayman developed an app named “4 Snaps”, a turn-based game that gave the user a choice of words, allowed them to take four pictures based on the word they picked, and then sent over to the opponent player to guess what the word was, based on the pictures taken.[30] He released the app on August 8, 2013[30] and by the year after, the app had over one million downloads.[8]

4 Snaps was received with mostly positive reviews.[30] It peaked at #1 on the word games chart with a few million users.[31]

Facebook (2014–17)[edit]

Sayman joined Facebook when he was 18.[32] Mentored by Mark Zuckerberg,[23] Sayman played a role within the company as the social network’s "go-to teen" and as its "teen-in-residence" according to TED. Over the course of 3 years at the company, he worked on developing products for the teenage demographic.[33] He helped the social-media company understand how his generation uses technology, advising on experimental products for teens and helping executives understand trends.[7][34]

While working at Facebook, he launched Lifestage, a standalone, video-centric social app for high school students.[31] The app was largely focused on the teenage demographic; anyone 22 or older is locked into only being able to see their own profile.[35] When users signed up, with no need for a Facebook account, they would select their high school, and then see the video profiles from people at their school or ones nearby. Sayman released the app on August 19, 2016, for iOS devices in the United States.[31] The app was met with criticism regarding its privacy model and compared to Snapchat and Yik Yak.[36][37] Facebook pulled Lifestage from the app store and shut it down on August 4, 2017, because it already had Snapchat.[38][39] Sayman left Facebook that same month.[40][32]


Sayman joined Google to work on its Google 'Assistant' project[41] Sayman worked on building a social-gaming startup within Google as part of the company's effort to create offspring companies from within the internet-search conglomerate.[34][42][43]

In 2017, Sayman was the profile of an article by El Deber, a paper published in Santa Cruz, Bolivia. Describing him as a "genius",[42] Sayman explained in detail how the Google 'Assistant' project benefits users.

At age 22 in 2019, Sayman's work at Google led to him being chosen to be on Forbes's 30 Under 30 list, a prestigious list of successful professionals under the age of 30.[44] His entry on the list notes his experience as Facebook and his work on Google's "Assistant" function.

Post-Google (2020–)[edit]

In 2020, Sayman left his role at Google to join Roblox, a video game platform.[45][46] Sayman has been described by Semana as "the most influential Latino in Silicon Valley".[9] A memoir by Sayman, App Kid, that details his upbringing and family life is set to be released in September 2021.[47]


  1. ^ "'Tax the Hell Out of Me,' Says Young Millionaire Google Exec at Prospect of a President Bernie Sanders". Common Dreams. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  2. ^ Sayman, Michael (2021). App Kid: How a Child of Immigrants Grabbed a Piece of the American Dream. Knopf. ISBN 9780525656197.
  3. ^ "El niño que diseña aplicaciones". BBC News Mundo (in Spanish). 2012-06-14. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  4. ^ Palacios, Oswaldo (2012-12-01). "Genio peruano destaca creando aplicaciones para Apple". RPP (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  5. ^ "Michael Sayman, el genio de Apple que es hijo de un boliviano: "Nunca dejen que se pierdan sus sueños"". Oxígeno Digital (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  6. ^ a b "This 21-year-old Latino Millionaire Saved His Family From Financial Crisis as a Teen". PEOPLE.com. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  7. ^ a b c Kantrowitz, Alex. "Snapchat was 'an existential threat' to Facebook — until an 18-year-old developer convinced Mark Zuckerberg to invest in Instagram Stories". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  8. ^ a b c d DeAmicis, Carmel (30 April 2014). "How a Florida kid's "stupid app" saved his family's home and landed him on the main stage at Facebook". Pando.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  9. ^ a b Semana (2020-12-15). "Michael Sayman, el latino más influyente de Silicon Valley, desde los 13 años mantiene a su familia". Semana.com Últimas Noticias de Colombia y el Mundo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  10. ^ "30 Under 30 2019: Consumer Technology". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  11. ^ "TEDxMenloCollege | TED". www.ted.com. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  12. ^ Tapia, David Blay (4 September 2014). ¿Por qué no nos dejan trabajar desde casa? (in Spanish). Bubok (published 2014-09-04). ISBN 9788468657028.
  13. ^ "Conoce a Michael Sayman, el trabajador más joven de Facebook". América Televisión (in Spanish). Retrieved 2018-11-14.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  14. ^ "'I certainly lacked the foresight to understand what would come of the next few years in my life'". www.9news.com.au. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  15. ^ "Michael Sayman dice que probablemente tenga coronavirus | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  16. ^ "Michael Sayman, el fichaje estrella de Roblox antes de su próxima salida a Bolsa". El Español (in Spanish). 2020-12-15. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  17. ^ a b c "Almost a year after coming out, Michael Sayman reflects on his decision". People en Español. Retrieved 2021-01-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  18. ^ Español, Redacción de CNET en. "Los 20 latinos y latinas más importantes en el mundo de la tecnología de CNET en Español". CNET en Español (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  19. ^ Bolivia, Opinión. "Programador de Facebook cuenta sus secretos". Opinión Bolivia (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  20. ^ "Michael Sayman Is 16 and About to Release His 9th App". ABC News. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  21. ^ "Conoce al inmigrante hispano de 21 años que es considerado un genio de 'Google' y ya es millonario". Univision Noticias. March 11, 2018.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ "Michael Sayman, el prodigio de Facebook, revela el difícil camino del éxito". Noticias Caracol. March 29, 2017.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  23. ^ a b Warren, Katie. "This 21-year-old millionaire was hired by Facebook at 17 and now works at Google — and his career advice is wise beyond his years". Insider. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  24. ^ "Teen's App Helps Pay Family's Bills". NPR.org. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  25. ^ Hansen, Lena (November 2018). "Una vida sin secretos". People en Español (in Spanish). p. 78.
  26. ^ a b DeAmicis, Carmel (2014-09-01). "How Facebook's newest teen engineer supported his family with apps until cashing in". gigaom.com (in American English). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  27. ^ "Ingeniero de Google cuenta su verdad: "Soy gay"". People en Español (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  28. ^ "Michael Sayman, exitoso ingeniero hispano de Google, se declara gay". eldia.com.bo. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  29. ^ "Sayman: "Tengo miedo de que me vean como el ingeniero que es gay" | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  30. ^ a b c Beasley, Mike (2013-08-08). "Review: 4Snaps is a fun new word game for iOS". 9to5Mac (in American English). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  31. ^ a b c "Facebook's new teens-only app Lifestage turns bios into video profiles". TechCrunch. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  32. ^ a b "Facebook teen-in-residence defects to Google and launches Lies". TechCrunch (in American English). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  33. ^ "Michael Sayman deja Facebook y se va a Google | EL DEBER". eldeber.com.bo (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  34. ^ a b "Google Wunderkind Is Building a Secret Social-Gaming Startup". Bloomberg.com. 2018-05-02. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  35. ^ King, Hope (2016-08-22). "Snapchat, is that you? Facebook's new Lifestage app for teens is another clone". CNNMoney. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  36. ^ Heath, Alex. "What it's like to use Facebook's new Snapchat competitor that's only for high schoolers". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  37. ^ "Privacy concerns about Facebook LifeStage app". www.privacytrust.com. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  38. ^ Musil, Steven. "Facebook pulls plug on teen-focused network Lifestage". CNET. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  39. ^ Gartenberg, Chaim (2017-08-08). "Facebook killed its standalone Snapchat app after realizing teens already have Snapchat". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  40. ^ "Facebook's 21-Year-Old Wunderkind Leaves for Google". Bloomberg.com. 2017-08-28. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  41. ^ "Google: Google and Facebook are fighting over this 21 year old". The Economic Times. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  42. ^ a b "El genio Michael Sayman explica los lanzamientos de Google". El Deber (in Spanish). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  43. ^ Newton, Casey (2018-12-15). "22 predictions for social media in 2019". The Verge. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  44. ^ "30 Under 30 2019: Consumer Technology". Forbes. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  45. ^ Ghosh, Shona. "The 24-year-old whiz kid who was hired by Mark Zuckerberg then Google is leaving to work at Roblox". Business Insider. Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  46. ^ Lee, Allen (2020-12-21). "10 Things You Didn't Know about Michael Sayman". Money Inc (in American English). Retrieved 2021-01-30.
  47. ^ Galuppo, Mia (2021-08-27). "Rights Available: New Books With Hollywood Appeal". The Hollywood Reporter (in American English). Retrieved 2021-08-28.