Privatext is an app that offers secure text messages and photos that self-destruct

Posted Feb 4, 2014

Privatext is an app that promises secure text messages and photos that self-destruct. The app launched in June and has an interesting backstory. The app has end-to-end encryption and allows users of the service to send text messages and pictures that are deleted. The messages can be set to expire automatically or after a certain time. After the message is read, they are deleted from the sender’s and recipient’s devices. Text messages and pictures can even be deleted before the recipient reads it.

Conversations taking place on Privatext are private and unrecoverable. Privatext allows you to set an extra password for reading texts and picture messages. Photos that are sent within the app are not saved to the device. Messages cannot be saved or forwarded. Text messages are asked to be confirmed. When sending a text, the bubble pops up and asks you to confirm.

Privatext was founded by Justin Schwartz when he was 25. He came up with the concept when he was 22 when a buddy of his sent a text to his boss instead of his girlfriend on accident. The message said something along the lines of “you look beautiful and I look forward to kissing you.”

Justin did not have any programming experience so he hired an outsourcing firm. He said that working with an outsourced company is like “working with a mechanic without having car knowledge yourself.” The mechanic could tell you something is wrong, but it may not be at all. He thought that the company he worked with was good because they had a solid track record and they did that kind of work for around two years. That company also built several global apps. However, he said that some companies could say that they have done work for an app even if it was a small contribution. The inherited code from the outsourced company became a huge issue.

Justin told me that this is when he decided to search for independent programmers. Privatext was built after he found a solid programmer and was endorsed by a few celebrities including Brad Delson (Linkin Park) and Adam Richman (Man vs. Food). The app has been downloaded over 100,000 times.

The company worked with ex-CIA and Secret Service agents to test out the app to ensure that everything deletes.

Schwartz has been through a lot to get through where he is now. Schwartz became one of the youngest interns to work at Colombia Records / Epic Records. He said he knew a lot of people that make great music and their frustration was not they did not have enough money for studio time or for beats. Most struggling rappers are making minimum wage, but producers ask $200 per hour for studio time and around $400 for beats. He came up with a concept for producers to sell their beats that were tossed out. and loaded into a game for rappers to make their own song, load them onto a website, and have people vote on it. The winners would get a record deal. He also pitched the idea around this concept for a game. Schwartz allegedly pitched this idea to people that were connected to the Def Jam Rapstar game. Schwartz said that he worked with a top attorney in the city to take the case based on contingency.

He decided to create Privatext in the middle of that lawsuit since the case was not getting very far. But it helped him raise money because his friends, friends of family members, and family knew about his video game idea. Schwartz told me that they said “your idea was good enough to become a video game – your next one is Privatext.” This is how he was able to raise a bit of money from family and friends to build the company.

Schwartz was also offered a modeling job by Abercrombie and Fitch. Unfortunately, this would require him to stand around shirtless in front of stores. He decided to turn down that opportunity. “We have investors that do not want to have the image of the shirtless CEO standing around near the food court,” joked Schwartz in an interview.

You can download the app from here.