Mark Cuban Takes on Snapchat with Cyber Dust

In a world where texts, tweets and emails can potentially be used against you, billionaire investor Mark Cuban launched Cyber Dust, an app for disappearing text messages and photos.

Once the recipient views the note, it vanishes in seconds.

Cuban says he was inspired to create this service after being challenged by the FCC over insider trading allegations, of which he was eventually cleared.  “What I learned very quickly was they took old emails and messages and created whatever context they wanted to create for it,” says Cuban.

Cuban took his idea to app developers and launched Cyber Dust to address his privacy concerns. “The minute we hit send on a text we lose control,” says Cuban. “We are all going to have to learn to shrink our digital footprint.”

Yet Cyber Dust is not the only app for ephemeral messages. Snapchat recently added text to its service, after popularizing “selfie” photographs.

Although Cyber Dust has a way to go before reaching Snapchat’s millions of users, Cuban says that his app will appeal to users who are looking for something truly private. “The minute we turn off the server it’s gone forever,” says Cuban.

Cyber Dust does not store messages on hard drives. Snapchat, on the other hand, recently got in trouble with the FTC, saying it misled the public about the extent of its privacy.

Last fall, Snapchat reportedly turned down a $3 billion acquisition offer from Facebook (NASDAQ:FB). Cuban says he told Snapchat they were “crazy” for turning down Facebook.  “There’s a lot of things that you can do in your life that transcend money when you don’t have to worry about money.”

Cuban earned much of his fortune by selling companies, notably to Yahoo (NASDAQ:YHOO)  for $5.7 billion in 1999.

Since then, Cuban has invested in a variety of ventures, including Magnolia Pictures and Landmark Theatres. He has been an owner of the Dallas Mavericks since 2000.