Does Snapchat's Sexting Lead To Boom, Bubble Or Just Disposable Pornography?

Google, Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest all became hyper-valued tech companies in a short time span -- to the point that many doomsday prognosticators are today beginning to cry "chicken-little." Comparison to the bubble of the late 90s is an easy analogy to draw, even though today's tech expansion differs markedly. Nonetheless, it's enough of a catalyst for the weak-at-heart to second-guess themselves as to whether or not to dump their tech stocks sooner versus later.

One little start-up headed up by two college students who were still pulling "all-nighters" at Stanford University just one year ago -- seems to have flamed the fires from a slow burn to a Survivors' bonfire, in just one week's time.

Spiegel & MurphySpiegel & MurphyFor those living under the proverbial rock, the messaging software application company, Snapchat is at the center of this zeitgeist shift. When the firm's partners Evan Spiegel (23 yrs old) and Bobby Murphy, 25 dissed Mark Zuckerberg's stratospheric buy-out offer of $3 billion, speculation began to cyberventilate the blogosphere exponentially that this was potentially the beginning of the end for tech start-ups.

Could Snapchat Become as Ephemeral as its Top Feature?

In the current Weiner-esque era we live, when x-rated selfies are being caught literally red-handed in viral text messaging, is it any wonder that someone would eventually create an app that would address the undressed? When texting morphed into sexting, many sacrificed public exhibitionism for momentary titillation.

So, as the saying goes: "there's an app for that," when Spiegel and Murphy developed one that would allow trigger-happy texters to send risqué photos with the caveat they could control the length of time it was visible to the recipient, up to ten seconds. After that, the picture fades into oblivion and can't be seen again, nor recorded or transferred. This hits the privacy issue squarely on the head and makes Snapchat the latest shiny new thing to capture our imagination. . . and yes, allow for billion-dollar offers to start coming in from fellow Silicon Valley-preneurs!

While it does fill a need, it's curious to me if Snapchat will stand the test of time, or whether -- like it's disappearing-act feature -- fade as quickly as it came into awareness? For those who remember -- the Snapchat scenario is very similar to another social media platform that fell on its sword. Even though Chatroulette attracted the attention of such tech luminaries as Sean Parker, the X-rated procilivities of its users was enough to do it in, within the blink of an eye.

Bubbling over, or Booming forward?

Consequently, these sky-rocketing techie valuations with untested business models made some feel  they were coming down with a bad case of dot-com deja vu.

In a recent Yahoo Finance report, by Aaron Task, he points to the "bubble" meme picking up steam in the past week in the wake of Twitter’s blockbuster IPO, and the rebuked Snapchat offer. But according to Howard Lindzon, chairman of StockTwits, he thinks otherwise. “We’re living in a boom, not a bubble -- these articles are all focused on reasons to keep you fearful and under-invested,” notes Lindzon.

“Calling something a ‘bubble’ is just as dangerous as someone calling the end of the world,” he continues. “You don’t yell ‘fire’ if there’s no proof."

As for Facebook's offer for Snapchat, Lindzon compares that to ExxonMobil wildcatting in the arctic. "If Exxon spends $2 billion drilling in the arctic but finds no oil, do we hear about it?" he asks. Facebook is "drilling for attention and engagement" and trying to win the battle for "global thermal mobile domination."

"To me, those comparing the current cycle to the late-1990s mania are missing one critical element: Back then, the conversation was dominated by a view that you 'can’t miss' with tech stocks, a mass delusion which repeated itself in the early 2000s when people said housing prices 'always go up," concluded Lindzon.

The 90's paradigm was based almost entirely on speculation and inflated expectation, versus today's mobile ad revenue model of LinkedIn and Facebook producing a legitimate ROI for their stockholders (and it's only a matter of time before Twitter follows suit, now that they have gone public).

Add China to the Mix

More than boom or bust, we might want to shift our attention to a country that might have more control over whether the fulcrum swings in one direction or the other. Global domination of the Internet is at stake here, and China's foothold with the Internet of Things and semantic technology has already shifted the balance in their favor.

And there are also signs on the digital landscape that indicate Snapchat might help their cause. Chinese tech behemoth Tencent just upped the ante for Snapchat from Zuckerberg's offer to $4 billion. That bid may be a way for this social network's own messaging app WeChat to expand beyond its 236 million monthly Chinese user base to become a global presence.

In Conclusion

If we learned anything -- in this Web 2.0 milieu we find ourselves -- we're cognizant social media marketing is all about engaging with customers and building long-term relationships. Boom, or bust, if marketers are to embrace the latest new shiny snappin' & chattin' thing, they are going to have to figure out how to benefit from its' ephemeral nature. Yes, sex still sells, but I don't think there are many brands out there willing to make Mr. Anthony Wiener their next spokesman any time soon.

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Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

This app will disappear when

This app will disappear when Apple enables geofencing parental and organizational controls. All $3 billion or $4 "million" of it.

Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

This article totally misses

This article totally misses the point of Snapchat. It has nothing to do with sexting (although admittedly that's its current marketing ploy). The value is in the technology. Allowing users to limit the 'lifespan' of data they send, is worth billions of dollars and has applications all across the digital landscape!

Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

Of course, snapchat doesn't

Of course, snapchat doesn't actually do that. The device owner controls the graphics driver of the display, and anyone who wants to has been able to save snapchat messages. Of course, the NSA has a copy of everything saved indefinitely and it will all get published eventually. The technology is worthless. Zuckerberg wants to pay for advertiser eyeballs. Why the advertisers pay to irritate users is the big mystery.

Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

"Why the advertisers pay to

"Why the advertisers pay to irritate users is the big mystery."

Even here!

Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

Kevin Rose from Digg would

Kevin Rose from Digg would like to speak to the Snapchat "entrepreneurs." Just for a couple of minutes...

Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

Don't make me laugh. This is

Don't make me laugh. This is not new, you ever heard of software trials, MS music passport, rented movies that last 24 hrs on your machine, DRM, it is all about sexting for snapchat and their tech.

Nov 17, 2013
by Anonymous

Andy's "in the future,

Andy's "in the future, everyone will be famous for 15 minutes" has come true. If you play those minutes well, you get tons of money. Doesn't mean these are not silly fads and near-zero technology.