Who is Jack Dorsey?
Jack Dorsey is an internet entrepreneur whose humble origins and immense wealth have earned him his place at the billionaire’s table. The 42 year old Twitter and Square CEO is currently worth £3.5 billion, is 85th on the Forbes 400 and was called “the world’s most eligible bachelor” by Forbes in 2013.
Born in St. Louis Missouri on 19 November 1976, Dorsey spent his youth as a fashion model and a budding programmer. He attended the University of Missouri-Rolla for two years, then transferred to New York University, only to drop out in 1999, one semester before graduating.
Before becoming the Twitter star we know today, Dorsey lived and worked in Oakland California, creating software to remotely dispatch taxis and couriers. It was around this time that he got the idea for a web-based status communication service.
Jack Dorsey: Twitter
Since its founding 12 years ago, Twitter has gone from a simple social networking site to one of the internet’s largest hubs for news and celebrity updates. Dorsey first had the idea for Twitter in 2000, but it wasn’t until a brainstorming session with the search destination website Odeo that the ball for this social media service really got rolling. The idea was based on Dorsey’s vision of being able to send short messages through small communities and was inspired by instant messaging services like AIM and MSN Messenger.
The prototype, which was built in about two weeks by Dorsey and his co-founder Biz Stone, was originally used as a communication tool for Odeo employees. The service was viewed as a combination of social media and text messaging, with a focus on the posting of short statuses. Spoiler alert: the users loved it.
The completed service went public on 15 July, 2006, after receiving backing from the Odeo founders, blogging entrepreneur Evan Williams and software engineer Noah Glass. The website was originally called “twttr,” stylized in a similar manner to the image hosting service Flickr, though the name was changed to “Twitter” six months later.
The quartet of Dorsey, Stone, Williams, and Glass went on to form a parent company for Twitter and Odeo: Obvious Corporation, with Dorsey as the CEO. Under Obvious, Twitter’s growth was slow but steady until 2007, when Twitter spun off into its own company, Twitter Inc. Twitter also made its debut at the South by Southwest Conference in 2007, which caused a massive increase in daily traffic for the website. By live broadcasting tweets onto giant TV screens around the conference, Twitter successfully advertised to thousands and instantly tripled their daily usage.
And thus, the website rocketed into the mainstream, going from 400,000 tweets posted per quarter in 2007, to 100 million per quarter in 2008, to 65 million per day in 2011. At its peak in August of 2014, over 660 million tweets were being sent out each day.
But life as the Twitter CEO was far from perfect. Like all young websites, Twitter found itself the victim of server issues and outages in its formative years. But instead of focusing on these problems, Dorsey was known for abandoning work in favour of “recreation.” Like hot yoga.
Because of this blatant neglect of his own company, Dorsey was outed in 2008 and replaced with Williams, who was in turn replaced with Dick Costolo in 2011. It was during this time that Dorsey moved into the hardware world with Square.
But Twitter wasn’t done with its founder, it would seem. On 10 June, 2015, Costolo announced that he would be resigning and that Dorsey would be returning as an interim CEO in his absence. “Interim CEO” became “permanent CEO” on 5 October, a position he has held ever since.
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Jack Dorsey: Square Inc
The idea for Square came to Dorsey in 2009, after his friend Jim McKelvey, a maker of glass products, was unable to complete a sale because he couldn’t accept credit cards. So the duo created Square, a device that can be plugged into a cellphone’s headphone jack and process debit and credit card transactions.
The service launched in late 2009 to a controlled pilot of 50,000 users. The success of this ten month period led to the public release in November 2010. Part of the appeal was the service’s lack of monthly fees or contracts. All that Square requires is a fee of 2.75% per swipe, and the basic magstripe reader is free of charge.
Later Square Inc. products include the Square Stand, which turns an iPad into a POS system, the Contactless and Chip Reader, and Square Register, a complete POS system for slightly larger businesses.
Square was criticised early on by Verifone for the service’s lack of encryption, claiming it was making it easy for programmers to skim credit cards. Square denied these claims but tightened their security anyway, and all of its later products were encrypted.
The company, which brought in about £1.7 billion in revenue last year, is still run by Dorsey, who balances being the CEO of both Twitter and Square with his passion for yoga.
Image Credit: JD Lasica on Fickr