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Super-Secure, Temporary Texts Draw Interest Of Business Crowd

Feb 15, 2014
Originally published on February 16, 2014 11:00 am

The online magazine Ozy covers people, places and trends on the horizon. Co-founder Carlos Watson joins All Things Considered regularly to tell us about the site's latest feature stories.

This week, Watson talks with host Arun Rath about a new texting service that promises tight security. While Snapchat has become a popular way to text photos that disappear after a number of seconds, recent hacks have raised questions about its security. A service called Privatext provides an alternative that has gained interest among some professionals.

They also discuss a shift in corporate structure that encourages big companies to look out for employees and customers as much as they do for shareholders.

Copyright 2014 NPR. To see more, visit http://www.npr.org/.



It's time now for The New and The Next.


RATH: RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. Each week, he joins us to talk about what's new and what's next. Welcome back, Carlos.

CARLOS WATSON: Arun, always good to be with you.

RATH: So a lot of people are familiar with Snapchat. This is a texting service that lets you send photos. You could put messages on them and they disappear after a certain period of time. You have a piece about a new texting service, but it seems like it might be Snapchat for grown-ups, for people who want their texts to be completely unhackable.

WATSON: You bet. So there's a new company called Privatext that realizes more and more people wanted to send risque, or just important and confidential texts to each other but there was a concern about how, you know, easily they could keep it private.

And so now, Privatext allows you to send a text from one person to another; where you've got a special pincode, they've got a special pincode, and you can keep it private, you could have it disappear. You can keep it going for as long as 30 seconds and up to 24 hours. But it's up to you how long the text remains in the other person's phone.

RATH: So who do you think this is for?

WATSON: Privatext is, interestingly enough, finding interest in two areas. One, among business people - imagine someone in the middle of some kind of important deal or negotiation - and then hospitals. You've got really confidential information that you want to share with a patient or a doctor or someone else; this might be an opportunity to kind of conform with the law and the rules.

RATH: Finally, we have another business story. When people think about big corporations, you don't usually think about, you know, them looking after the little guy. But there's an interesting piece you have about how people are trying to kind of turn corporate culture upside down, almost.

WATSON: For years, when companies were created, they became what were called C corps., or sometimes they're referred to as S corps. But there's a whole new designation, something called a B corp., which stands for benefit corp. And the idea there is that not only do profits matter, but that you're also able to measure its impact on the planet as well as its impact on people. And so it's a triple-bottom-line kind of company that now, 20 states have authorized. And you're seeing a lot of hot companies make that decision - Etsy, if you know Etsy; or Warby Parker; or even Patagonia.

RATH: Etsy is an online marketplace for handmade goods.

WATSON: Correct. That now, you know, last year alone saw more than a billion dollars in sales and trading happen on its platform. And some people, Arun, are saying that Etsy may be the first benefit corp. to go public - if indeed, as some are speculating, it does so in the next 12 to 18 months.

RATH: Wow. That would be - has a corporation like this ever gone publicly traded before?

WATSON: Not yet. And that's why people are intrigued. Now, the other wrinkle here is that it's one thing to be a so-called certified B corp., which is done by a nonprofit group called B Labs, as in Benefit Labs. But it's another thing to truly register with the state of Delaware, or the state of Maryland, and to go through that process.

Now, Etsy hasn't registered formally as a B corp. They're a good old-fashioned C corp., but they're certified. So that's a fancy way of saying if they were to go to public, would they still be able to care about the planet, and about people, as much as they do about profits? Or would all that just end up being nice talk, and could any shareholder sue them to the extent they weren't maximizing profits?

RATH: Right. It'd be interesting to find out.

WATSON: Look, it could upend 100-plus years of major corporate culture, in a world in which millennials and others are increasingly saying we want more out of our companies. Boy, this could be a shot across the bow, and could change things in a major way.

RATH: Carlos Watson is the co-founder of the online magazine Ozy. You can explore all the stories we talked about at npr.org/newandnext. Carlos, thanks again.

WATSON: Arun, good to be with you. Have a great weekend. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.