Here's a hypothetical for you. Let's say you're a smart, plugged-in 20-something entrepreneur. You've come up with an idea for an app that proves insanely popular, though you have yet to figure out how to collect any money for it. This business is dependent entirely on the momentary whims of teenagers, many of whom may be breaking the law by using it.
Some guy comes up to you driving a Brink's truck filled with greenbacks. He offers you $3 billion on the spot, in cash, for your company.
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A) Look behind him for the guys in the white coats with the nets
B) Take the money, buy your own island, and stock it with supermodels
C) See if Google will make you a better offer
D) Say, "Meh, I think I'll pass"
If you're 23-year-old Evan Spiegel, co-founder of Snapchat -- or you're out of your flippin' mind -- you choose options C and/or D. Why? That is the $3 billion question, or possibly the $4 billion one, if the rumors about Google's counteroffer are to be believed.
Sexts and the single URL
Snapchat is based on a very simple premise: You can take any kind of naughty photo you want, send it to any other Snapchat user, and have the thing go poof within 10 seconds. No harm, no foul, and no incriminating evidence are left behind.
Nearly one out of every 10 U.S. cellphone users has installed Snapchat, according to the latest Pew Research Center survey, 95 percent of them under the age of 29. It's a concept so appealing to a certain demographic that an alleged 350 million Snapchats are sent each day. That's a lot of self-destructing selfies.
The problem? A large percentage of those narcissistic shutterbugs are under the age of 18 -- which makes Snapchat a big, fat target for law enforcement agencies trying to combat kiddie porn. The service has already published a guide telling police what they need to do to get their hands on Snapchat user data. Last month, Snapchat admitted it has passed on "about a dozen" photos to the feds. That "about a dozen" number is likely to zoom upward very soon, I suspect.
Also, that bit about Snapchats quickly disappearing? Not so much. The service recently unveiled Stories, a feature that makes Snapchat sessions available for up to 24 hours. Even the quickly disappearing kind can be captured by someone with fast enough fingers, as evidenced by any Google search for nude Snapchat pix. (Or so I've heard.)