The above screenshot is from an interactive infographic that can be found in a Tech Crunch article, Visualizing 15 Years of Acquisitions by Apple, Google, Yahoo, Amazon, and Facebook. For perspective, that huge blue bubble in the bottom corner is the much talked about 19 Billion dollar WhatsApp acquisition by Facebook earlier this year. Scrolling through some of these acquisitions, I recognized many names including Tumblr, Instagram, and Youtube, among others. This got me thinking about some of the apps or web services that I have used or heard about that may be next on the list of companies to be acquired by one of these tech giants, given their seemingly unquenchable thirst to buy up these smaller web services and apps.
The first that came to mind was the new Cyber dust app (currently only available for iPhone but their website promises an android version soon). The messaging company is somewhere in between text messaging and snapchat. The basic idea is that once you send someone any message or image, it disappears 30 seconds after they open it. Given snapchat’s popularity, I can see this app getting similar levels of attention. While they are too new to have published any data on number of users or anything like that, I can see them growing quickly.
I am sure that any of the companies included in the info-graphic above (Apple, Yahoo, Amazon, Facebook and Google) would be interested in acquiring this company, I would expect Facebook to make an offer if my prediction on the app’s user base growth is correct. Facebook had offered three billion dollars in cash for snapchat late last year, so they have an interest in this “disappearing digital footprint” fad. Given heightened privacy concerns of many mobile users, these kinds of apps are very popular. Since snapchat rejected Facebook’s offer, I wouldn’t be surprised if Facebook is quick to make an offer to purchase cyber dust.
The service, whose tagline is “Every spoken word isn’t recorded. Why should your texts be?” is owned by Shark Tank’s famous Mark Cuban, who says he doesn’t think it will replace texting, only supplement it but that Cyber dust does allow you to stay in control of your messages. With standard texting, you lose control as soon as you hit send. While there are some obvious sketchy uses for cyber dust that come to mind, I have used it to send my login information for my Netflix account to my brother. While that isn’t the most sensitive information out there, I don’t really want him to tell all his friends at school and have 300 high school freshmen using my Netflix account. Cyber dust prevents him from leaving that information on his phone when he takes it to school. Other more innocent uses for the app that come to mind are coordinating some kind of surprise birthday party or complaining about your boss to coworkers.
While there are a lot of “what ifs” about Cyber dust’s growth, I think that my prediction is a reasonable one. I don’t know much about Mark Cuban’s goals for holding onto or selling the service, so whether or not cyber dust is actually sold if an offer is made is another discussion entirely.