An Interview with Joey Cato: Founder of my80sTV.com

my-80s-tv
After being featured on Time Magazine’s list of Best Websites of 2014 Joey Cato saw a surge of people coming to his website, my80stv.com. A purely indulgent and entertainment based site, it serves as a platform to allow people to delve themselves in the TV shows of decades past. Joey Cato lives and works in Silicon Valley, California, notorious for being the home of start-ups and tech companies with names like Facebook and Google calling this area their home. However, instead of being interested in making money from my80stv.com, he admits it really was just an itch to use some new skills to satisfy his longing for what he missed from his childhood.

LSD: What was your inspiration for starting My80sTV? Was it simply a yearning to watch the cartoons of lazy Saturday mornings of when you were younger, or is there something else that prompted you?

I suppose it was probably a combination of various factors:
1) I’ve always been a huge 80s music nostalgia nut (I grew up poor as a child of the 80’s, so in a sense maybe I’m just trying to reclaim/relive my youth).
2) At the time I was spending my spare time learning web development and creating small projects to further my knowledge/experience. This site started as a basic proof-of-concept (just a single TV with about 12 channels )
3) Also, I had read Ready Player One (Ernest Cline) earlier and it really left an impression on me. If anything, it magnified my interest in 80’s pop culture.
LSD: How is the content delivered? Is it streaming? Do you have to worry about copyright? 

All of the site’s content is directly sourced from streaming YouTube videos. Perhaps the most time consuming task of putting the site together is finding and curating all of the videos (especially making sure each clip is assigned to the correct year). Over time, I founds ways to speed this up (automating it and adding a suggestion box to gather more channel input). As far as copyright goes, YouTube already has a system in place for taking down videos flagged for copyright violation, so basically I just periodically remove such content from the TV to keep it fresh (that or overlay the channels with fake TV static so as not to risk any immersion loss).
LSD: Being from Silicon Valley do you feel the need to turn every passion into some sort of start-up? 

 I’m actually from Texas originally (I moved to CA back in 2005).  No, I guess originally I didn’t view My80sTV with an end-goal in mind. For me, working on this was truly a labor of love and a reward in itself. That said, after it started becoming popular and eventually got attention from People/Time magazine, I began thinking more seriously about it. So lately I’ve been trying to think of creative ways to grow the site.
LSD: Is there as much competition there amongst start-ups as is rumoured? 

I imagine that might be the case, given the high number of tech companies concentrated here. When I moved to California originally, I definitely noticed things were much more fast-paced.

 LSD: Do you work in the start-up community or is this a hobby for you?

 Yeah, My80sTV is really just a hobby at the moment. As far as my full-time job goes, I enjoy working at Netflix. It’s like a start-up in many ways.