Was doing some research on Square tonight and came across a few older pieces that I think provide a little more color on the company. For instance, here is a Wired article from June 2013 on Square’s office layout and environment. Here’s a little snippet:
Jack Dorsey’s design philosophy prizes technology that fades into the background. He prizes transparency and utility in the service of connection—themes common to the products of both his companies, Twitter and Square. At Square, that same sensibility is on display in the places and ways the company’s employees work every day. Square wants work to be anything but punching the clock. It wants life at the office to be a designed experience.
To reach that goal, the company has tapped Chris Gorman, whose background is in retail design for companies like Apple. On one level, he fulfills the role of traditional office manager and facilities guy. It’s crucial, he says, to make sure all the light bulbs are lit. But as head of office experience, he’s also tasked with thinking up creative ways to use the office to encourage employees to collaborate better.
“At the core, we want to make it excessively easy to come together,” Gorman says.
Ways of coming together range from an open office floor plan dotted with “cabanas” for informal chats and work sessions to the practice of taking notes on any meeting involving at least three people and posting them to a hub where anyone in the company can access them.
One of the most interesting things about the piece, I thought, was that Square has an on-premise coffee shop for its employees where it beta tests new hardware/software.
Then there was another 2013 piece in the New Yorker highlighting Jack Dorsey. I think I learned more in this piece on Dorsey, than my previous combined knowledge. Here’s how the article describes the time right after he was ousted from Twitter and began Square:
He needed another tangible problem to solve. It had to be something that affected him personally—he’d learned this from toiling on podcasts. “I’m somewhat selfish in that regard,” he says. “I want to use these things in the world, and you make the bet that other people want to use them.” He played around with various social-media tools. (“I can’t tell you about them, because I might want to do them one day!” he says.) The right challenge came his way a few months later, when a longtime friend, an artist and tech entrepreneur named Jim McKelvey, complained that he’d failed to sell a piece of glasswork to an overseas buyer. The woman had been willing to pay two thousand dollars for it, but McKelvey wasn’t able to accept her credit card. Dorsey and McKelvey felt that they’d detected a glitch in a fundamental system. They studied the way payments were processed, and concluded that it was muddled, unnecessarily expensive, and ugly, with hulking cash registers, mounds of paper receipts, hidden charges, and insulting credit checks for merchants. The system lacked wabi-sabi. Greg Kidd remembers talking to Dorsey about the possible project: “He said one of those Jack things. ‘You know, Greg, payments are very intimate.’ That’s all he said.”
Dorsey began to think of payments not as money but as “commerce, which is conversation.” But chat on the Internet is wide-open territory; commercial transactions are regulated by banks and populated by tough players. Dorsey, having spent much of his youth in debt, “hated the credit-card companies.” He told me, “It actually gave me a lot of pause. Do I really want to support more of this instrument that leads a lot of people to bad financial health?” Yet he saw another chance to democratize a field, and to design something sturdy and elegant.
He and McKelvey set out to make a portable credit-card reader that anyone could use to accept a payment. Dorsey focussed on the software, McKelvey on the hardware. They assembled a small team, paying for them, in part, by selling some of Dorsey’s shares in Twitter. He and McKelvey hoped to break some rules. The opportunity arrived in February, 2009, when they realized that they could attach a credit-card reader to an iPhone by appropriating the audio jack. They could piggyback on the computing power of the phone and sidestep Apple’s patented dock connector. “It was faster, more reliable, and royalty-free,” McKelvey recalls. In May, 2009, Dorsey tweeted, “Getting ready to embark on something new and entirely different. Excited!”
If you’re interested, you can read the whole thing at https://www.newyorker.com/magazine/2013/10/21/two-hit-wonder…
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