Love it or hate it — but you probably love it — Popcorn Time is a revolutionary app. And Federico Abad, the 29-year-old Buenos Aires-based developer who created it and just granted his first international interview about the "Netflix for torrents," seems like a pretty rad guy.
Based on a new interview with Dagens Næringsliv, a Norwegian tabloid, Abad sounds like a guy I'd like to hang out with (and not just because I lived in Buenos Aires for a year, and we both like video games and movies and, of course, the promise of technology). Here are a few select quotes from the big splashy Scandinavian newspaper feature about Abad that I will present as proof:
Here in Argentina the internet is very slow. And movies are coming too late to the cinemas, up to half a year after the US premiere. If you hang out with a girl you can't say "hey let's see a movie". You have to talk the day before, agree on which movie you should watch and start downloading it a day in advance. I thought there had to be a better solution, he says.
This is all true. Watching new movies in Argentina is almost impossible and downloading anything over the slow internet is a pain in the arse. Obviously, a program like Popcorn Time was not well-received by copyright cops. But the way Abad built and distributed the app makes it almost impossible to block.
I love Netflix. I pay for it too. But its catalogue in Argentina is absolutely horrible. Even the latest additions they put out are several years old, Abad says.
See, he's not just thieving!
The living room consists of a black leather sofa, an iMac, a bar trolley and an arcade game from the eighties pimped up with one terabyte of nostalgic video games.
Almost all games from that era are there, says Abad. It includes all existing versions of "Tetris" which he plays every day. Pixel Art puzzles hang from the walls. Special editions of Rubik's cubes are on display beside a large flat screen. He has collected them since he competed as speedcuber with a record of 35 seconds.
Tetris every day! And he's a speedcuber! This dude's definitely got some good party tricks.
He cannot remember how early he got his first computer, a Commodore 64, about the time the production of the legendary machine stopped. After one of his teachers said there was no point in learning programming languages because there were so many, he dropped out of high school and started working for an American porn site.
Hmm, OK. Education is certainly important, but then again, working for a porn site is many a teenage boy's greatest dream.
I said "Dad, look, we are featured in the magazine you always read. They write about me." It had always been very difficult for me to talk to my dad about what I worked with, because he didn't understand it. He just said that I worked with computers. Now I could say "this is what I'm doing" and our relationship improved.
That's terrific news! And then, there are claims that Popcorn Time could've made as much as $US100 million, if Abad had chosen to monetise it. He and his volunteer developer cohort even got offers.
We rejected all the offers. We didn't do this for money. We just wanted to have a good service, not something that ruined people's machines.
What about lawsuits from the MPAA and whatnot?
Abad has his own theory about why Popcorn Time has not been sued until now.
— We have not kept any information in our servers. We have not even had any servers. We don't own anything. We don't make money on it either. To stop it, they have to go to other sources.
Seriously, this guy sounds like a prince.
Abad says that the only major interview he has given earlier before he spoke with DN, was an Argentine woman's magazine that his mother also reads.
— My mother is very proud. She has told all her friends about it. And my dad asked why I left Popcorn Time. He said I could have become a millionaire. I answered no, Dad. I could have been in prison. I'd rather be with you.
Hit me up if you're ever in Brooklyn, Federico. I don't have as many video games, but I do know some great movie theatres.
Image via Dagens Næringsliv