Saturday, March 8, 2014

Gary Becker's grandson

As a child, [Gary Becker's grandson] Louis [Harboe] loved drawing, and at age 10, he got into Photoshop. He made a portfolio of designs, like icons to use in place of computer-program icons on your desktop; he shared them on his website and on Twitter, seeking feedback from designers and developers.

He didn’t reveal his age; his online profile picture was a smiley face. “You don’t want to tell anyone you’re 11,” he said, “because no one will hire you.”

His first job was to design the look of a puzzle game. It took a week of work. The game maker asked Louis his fee. But he was 12. He had no idea. “Um...,” Louis remembers stalling. “$150?”

“He was like: How about a little more because I really like you?” Louis got $350.

Louis got a handful of such gigs, and email inquiries for full-time jobs, including interest from Mozilla and Spotify when he was 14. The next year, an email came from an Apple talent scout. This time, Louis conceded his age and received this response: “You’re the second high schooler I’ve emailed. What are they teaching you in high school these days?”

In the summer after 10th grade, he was hired by Square, the payment company; he says he heard the predictable “child labor law jokes.” Lindsay Wiese, a Square spokeswoman, said that its internship program focuses on “talent, not age,” and that it looks for leaders “like Louis” who provide a diversity of perspective. Young people understand young consumers.

For Louis, the money has added up, around $35,000 in all, most of it spent on computers and accessories, some on business trips and some on eating out.