IN THE film The Social Network about Facebook, Justin Timberlake defined cool as a billion dollars. Snapchat is now being valued at as high as $4 billion dollars.

So by Mr. Timberlake’s formula the app – which lets you send self-destructing photos that delete after viewing – is literally four times cooler than Facebook right now. The private messaging app grabbed headlines in the tech world this week as it overtook Facebook for photo-sharing, with large sums of money being thrown around by potential buyers of the company.

Facebook and Google are believed to be interested in buying the young company, started by Evan Spiegel, 23. If Google, who famously snapped up YouTube back in 2006 for $1.65 billion, think Snapchat is worth such a crazy amount of money, then it probably is, right?

Maybe. Snapchat really is worth billions to Google and Facebook directly. Every photo you snapchat is a photo you didn’t Facebook. That’s not good for Facebook, which is only in business so long as it’s got users. By buying Snapchat, the 400 million photos Snapchat users share every day aren’t wandering astray anymore.

Then there’s Google. Google doesn’t know anything about what people are doing on Facebook, who are now their main competitors in the advertising business. They have their own ailing social network, Google+, which they’re trying to keep on life support. Buying Snapchat might tip them over the edge of being a real competitor in the social space.

But does this make Snapchat valuable? It definitely makes it valuable to Facebook and Google; but that’s because they’re able to integrate Snapchat into their own strategy. If they lose interest then Snapchat may become another small, tech-industry bubble, maybe as soon as next week.