By LAURA LOREK
Reporter with Silicon Hills News
Mamma.com’s founders then used emails from Cuban to try to convince the SEC he was a “bad guy.” Cuban got falsely accused of insider trading. The case dragged on for years and Cuban eventually won the case in 2013.
But that experience convinced him to launch Cyber Dust, a privacy app targeted at people 13 years or older that want to communicate through text without leaving a permanent record of messages sent. Cyber Dust deletes messages within 24 seconds after being read, according to the company.
Cuban spoke for an hour and a half at the University of Texas Club at the Darrell K. Royal Football stadium Tuesday night. More than 600 students attended the talk organized by Andrew Watts, vice president of professional activities at Delta Sigma Pi–Beta Kappa, a professional business fraternity at UT. Tilt, formerly Crowdtilt, sold tickets to the event, which required the students to download the Cyber Dust app. The event sold out.
The Cuban talk is one in a series Watts has organized on the UT campus. He also previously hosted an event with Evan Spiegel, CEO of Snapchat. Watts, 19, created a post that went viral in January on Medium titled “A Teenager’s View on Social Media.”
Watts met Cuban, self-made Internet billionaire, owner of the Dallas Mavericks and star of the ABC TV show Shark Tank, through the Cyber Dust app. He asked Cuban to speak at UT using the app. The Cyber Dust app is the powerful new way to communicate with Cuban. He used to accept pitches through email, but now he does most of his business through Cyber Dust.
The moment you hit send in a text message or email, you lose ownership of that content but you don’t lose responsibility for it, Cuban said.
“Everything loses context out there,” Cuban said.
Increasingly, privacy and security and the ability to control content are important to people, Cuban said.
Cuban even negotiated his Shark Tank salary using Cyber Dust.
Sony, which produces and owns Shark Tank, the show in which Cuban serves as judge, had its email hacked last year. And an email about Cuban’s negotiations for the salary for his role on Shark Tank got leaked. But not all of it leaked, because Cuban switched the negotiations to Cyber Dust, Cuban said. The final details of the salary negotiation never came out because he did it on Cyber Dust, he said.
Since Cyber Dust’s release people started using it in ways that Cuban never envisioned such as a network for broader communications, like Twitter, but only private. They created a “Blast” feature, which allows someone on Cyber Dust to communicate with a group of people.
Cyber Dust allows for much more open and honest communication, Cuban said.
“You can’t be honest on Twitter,” he said.
Trolls come out on Twitter to stir up trouble and tweets get taken out of context, Cuban said.
Cyber Dust also has a function where people can follow celebrities, musicians, marketers, business people, and activists.
Last fall, the Cyber Dust app had a couple hundred thousand users and now it has more than two million users and it’s growing, Cuban said.
When a person communicates on Cyber Dust, the app doesn’t specify whom that person is talking to so even if they take a screenshot of the conversation with their mobile phone, the conversation remains private, Cuban said.
Cuban promised to answer every question sent to him from the group of UT students on Cyber Dust in the next few days. He said Cyber Dust also features a mute function where he can mute a person and they are never notified. That way he can easily eliminate any trolls.
Universities have also started using Cyber Dust to communicate with students. Penn State is using the Cyber Dust app in class so students will be able to ask questions freely and not feel embarrassed.
The University of North Texas Collegiate Recovery Program uses the Cyber Dust app to help students recovering from substance abuse problems, dealing with behavioral addictions or coping with mental disorders.
Like a phone help line, the university has someone manning the app to respond to students with questions or problems, Cuban said. The anonymous nature of the app means students are more likely to engage with it on their mobile phones in a format they are comfortable with, he said.
During his talk at UT, Cuban covered a lot of topics including his time building Broadcast.com into the first live streaming channel on the Internet, but back in the mid-1990s, the practice was called netcasting. He sold that company to Yahoo! And that made him a billionaire. He also talked about wanting to win a few more championships as the owner of the Dallas Mavericks. He also admitted that he regretted not investing in Uber, the Internet startup that got away.
Cuban said he wants to do more acting. He will appear as the president of the United States in the Sharknado Three Movie. And he will be in Entourage this summer, he said.
During the talk, Cuban also gave a lot of advice to the UT students.
“The thing about college, being here at UT, it’s a great school, but the most important thing you’re going to learn is how to learn,” Cuban said. “Because the only thing that is a certainty once you graduate is that it’s going to be completely different than it is today.”
He also told the students the only thing they have complete control of is their effort. And the most precious commodity they have is their time. They need to spend it wisely.
“The whole point is you do control your own destiny. You do control your own destiny,” Cuban said. “So many people think there are external forces that are going to conspire to keep me from doing this and this….But when it’s all said and done the one thing in life you can control is your effort.”
Cuban last spoke at the University of Texas during an interview with UT Professor of Innovation Bob Metcalfe at Longhorn Startup Camp in December of 2013