Every time I hear one of those stories of a person who went through their parents’ letters and diaries after they died and “learned so much about who they really were,” I start panicking about all of the texts and emails my kids will find some day. At this point, the only hard copy items they’re going to find is a stack of “I’m sorry I screwed up Valentine’s Day/our anniversary” cards my husband has given me over the years.
But if they rifle through my inbox…Jesus.
So thank God for self-destructing messages from services like SnapChat and Wickr. Wickr announced Monday that it has raised $9 million in a Series A round of funding led by Gilman Louie of Alsop Louie, with help from Juniper Networks and Knight Foundation.
In the wake of the ongoing NSA scandal and the Snowden files, privacy is all the rage these days. It’s what the kids want! Founded in 2012 and headquartered in San Francisco, Wickr has become a top-ranked free social app in China, India, Brazil, South Africa, Israel, and Spain. The company now serves up over a million self-destructing messages a day in over 190 countries.
“Self-destructing?” you say. “How self-destructing?”
First off, the messages are secured with military-grade encryption, and they can only be decrypted by the recipient (Wickr can’t decrypt the messages). The sender decides who sees the message, at what time, where, and for how long, and the app deletes metadata like location, time, identification, and edits. The files you delete from your device are then “forensically shredded” to completely erase files from your device. Naturally, it’s anonymous, meaning Wickr gathers no information on you, and it’s integrated with Box, DropBox, and Google Files, so you can send PDFs and other files securely.
“Many human rights activists and whistleblowers across the world depend on Wickr to communicate with major human rights groups,” said Thor Halvorssen, Wickr investor and President of the Human Rights Foundation, in a statement. “Wickr makes it possible to envision a world where everyone enjoys privacy. This has huge implications for freedom of conscience and freedom of expression, let alone human rights monitoring and activism. If people are serious about protecting their data they will need this valuable tool. A side benefit is that every new wickr account is a check on the surveillance state."
CEO Nico Sell says the company plans to become profitable by convincing its power users (the top 3%) to pay for pro texting and calling.