He changed the way we communicate by inventing Twitter. Now Jack Dorsey wants to transform how we spend money. Wired UK in their August print edition feature Square, Dorsey’s game-changing startup he introduced at the DLD conference 2012 in Munich.
The evolution of his first startup Twitter? Jack Dorsey can tell some stories. In his childhood, he was truly obsessed with cities and how they operate. Driven by this passion, he taught himself how to code in order to draw maps on the computer screen. In the next step, he took his parents CB radio, which would announce ambulances, taxis, police cars and fire trucks, and connected it to his program. As they are constantly reporting their whereabouts, he could see each one of them move around the city. Taking that simple model and just extending it to normal people – that’s when the idea for Twitter was born.
The history (and future) of money triggers another kind of Dorsey story. His second startup Square, a mobile payment solution, lets anyone accept credit cards. It's currently only available in the US, but Dorsey is planning an international rollout. Square is called “one of Silicon Valley’s hottest startups, which recently sought a valuation of $4 billion.” The company as portrayed by Wired “hopes to infuse financial transactions with a dose of human intimacy.” Dorsey’s key into customers’ wallets lies in the form of a white plastic cube that accepts credit card swipes.
Photo: Square. (1) Put the Square Card Reader into the earphone jack of any Android, iPhone or iPad. (2) Swipe your credit card through a slot on the acorn (3) Sign the screen with your finger and enter your e-mail – that’s it.
At the core of his design, he admits to Wired, is wabi-sabi. Wabi-what? That’s a Japanese concept that beauty can be found in imperfection and impermanence. It goes beyond art and hits philosophy. Apparently, “a simple yet lived-in quality that pleases and engages users on a profound level.” What’s this got to do with Square?
Dorsey elaborates. Face-to-face commerce today, he says, is socially impoverished. Human beings have been handling money for thousands of years, but it is still an awkward, time-consuming, unplugged, and uninspiring experience. What if it were beautiful? To Wired it looks like Dorsey is trying to create magic in an industry where people have not previously sought wonder and delight. “In short, he hopes to pull an Apple on the entire financial world.”
As the driving force behind two startup darlings – one that already had a deep impact on the world’s communication and one that is promising to make paying effortless – you might see why this man is often mentioned as the spiritual successor of Steve Jobs.
The Pulse of the Planet
On the direction of the fast-paced social platform, Jack Dorsey took questions from journalists Holger Schmidt of Focus magazine and David Kirkpatrick of Wired at DLD12. Where’s Twitter heading? And how is Dorsey planning the international rollout for Square at the same time? What’s it like to have two full-time jobs? Watch out for Dorsey following the pulse of the planet.