Square files to go public

Square filed an initial public offering today.
The payments company, which was co-founded by Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey in 2009, has been rumored to be planing a public offering for some time. Now it has filed its S-1 with the US Securities and Exchange Commission.
Square will be listed on the New York Stock Exchange with the “SQ” symbol. The NYSE became popular among tech companies looking to go public in 2013, after Nasdaq was widely perceived to have bungled Facebook’s public offering.
Dorsey serves as the company’s chief executive, and was also recently named the full-time CEO at Twitter, the other company he co-founded. Interestingly, Square mentions in the S-1 filling that Dorsey’s split attention between the two companies could be a risk factor.
Dorsey for his part does, however, explain his commitment to Square in a letter included in the filing:

I believe so much in the potential of this company to drive positive impact in my lifetime that over the past two years I have given over 15 million shares, or 20% of my own equity, back to both Square and the Start Small Foundation, a new organization I created to meaningfully invest in the folks who inspire us: artists, musicians, and local businesses, with a special focus on underserved communities around the world. The shares being made available for the directed share program in this offering are being sold by the Start Small Foundation, giving Square customers the ability to buy equity to support the Foundation. I have also committed to give 40 million more of my shares, an additional 10% of the company, to invest in this cause. I’d rather have a smaller part of something big than a bigger part of something small.

Fusion notes that even as Square’s revenues grew by $298 million between 2013 and 2014, its losses also grew by $50 million in the same period. (It drew $561 million in revenues in the first half of 2015 and lost $78 million in that time.)
Previous reports indicate that Square plans to complete its initial public offering by the end of the year. The company has not yet revealed its initial price range, nor how many of its shares it plans to sell in the offering.

Twitter board names Jack Dorsey as full-time CEO

Jack Dorsey has been named Twitter’s newest chief executive.
A confluence of tweetstorms revealed the news early this morning. Dorsey tweeted that he would become the company’s full-time chief executive while remaining in the same role at Square; Dick Costolo congratulated the team and announced that he will be stepping down from Twitter’s board; and a board member said that the search for a chief executive ended with a unanimous vote for Dorsey to come back.
That might over-simplify the company’s hunt for its new leader. It took them 96 days to replace Costolo as Twitter’s chief executive — a move which board member Chris Sacca criticized after Volkswagen replaced its chief executive in just a week. The board was reportedly worried about Dorsey leading Twitter while continuing to work at Square because it wanted someone to focus entirely on the social network.
There were probably other misgivings about bringing Dorsey back. As Fortune explained when reports emerged about him dropping “interim” from his title:

Dorsey’s focus on outside hobbies, including sewing and drawing classes, and his frequent party appearances annoyed his co-workers. His lack of communication to investors and apparent six-figure text message bills annoyed the board. He had frequent arguments with Williams, who had provided the initial funding for Twitter. Oh, and while he was in charge, there was no backup of Twitter’s database.

Dorsey’s experience at Square appears to have changed that. Now he’ll be able to lead the company he co-founded with the benefit of having led another company without being made a “passive chairman” and “silent” board member. And if recent news is anything to go by, being led by the same man could benefit both companies. The split attention that so worried Twitter’s board might actually be a good thing.
These rumblings should mean much to Twitter. “As I step off the board, two reminders: those banging pots and pans outside Twitter know the least about what’s going on inside Twitter,” Costolo tweeted this morning, “and @Twitter, there is only one narrative that matters and it’s the one you’ll create for the world.” I suspect a publicly-traded company’s image is a little more important than Costolo lets on, but it’s probably a welcome sentiment inside the company’s tumultuous headquarters.
 

Twitter board ‘warming’ to idea of Dorsey as full-time CEO

It has been 89 days since Twitter has had a full-time chief executive. That might change now that the company’s board has reportedly warmed to the idea of making Jack Dorsey, the interim CEO, the permanent leader of the company he co-founded.
The New York Times reports that Twitter’s board is considering the possibility of having Dorsey lead the company again, despite initial misgivings about how he’d do the job while remaining the CEO of Square, the payments company he co-founded.
Dick Costolo left his position as Twitter’s CEO on July 1. “I initiated conversations with some members of the board at the end of last year about CEO succession as I contemplated what was next for me,” Costolo said in June. “And ultimately following discussions with the full board and at February meeting and then at our meeting last week, we agree that now is the right time to begin this transition.”
Costolo remains on Twitter’s board of directors, and is presumably helping the company find his replacement. Yet he has reportedly planned to leave the board — thus severing all ties with the company he led between 2010 and 2015 — as well.
Twitter’s board has been searching for Costolo’s permanent replacement since that announcement was made in June. But now, almost three months after Costolo left, the question of whether or not Dorsey will receive the title remains unanswered.
This has frustrated Chris Sacca, a venture capitalist and Twitter board member. “Good board of directors? They can name a new CEO by the end of the week,” he tweeted when Volkswagen replaced its CEO following the emissions scandal. “But the Twitter board? Nothing for months.” Sacca has been vocal about his support for Dorsey being named Twitter’s CEO and praised the company under his leadership.
There has already been one sign that Dorsey leading both Twitter and Square could benefit the companies: A partnership that makes it easy for Twitter users to donate to politicians. That partnership could, as I argued before, increase the visibility of both services while also giving Twitter users a reason to interact with the service. The two companies could doubtless find other ways to complement each other.
The New York Times is quick to note that Dorsey’s ascension to Twitter’s CEO isn’t guaranteed. The board hasn’t yet made its decision, and things can change quickly. But it seems like Dorsey’s appointment is more likely than it was a few months ago.

Twitter and Square use presidential campaigns to find relevancy

Twitter has partnered with Square, the payment processor with which it at least temporarily shares a chief executive, to make it easier for politicians to raise money via the social network.
This new feature could help Twitter figure out how it can be useful to normal people. The service is weird, and while its existing users might prefer it to stay that way, it has been trying everything to stay relevant, whether it’s dabbling in music discovery or copying Facebook or expanding its news-related features. Now it’s turning to payments — and politics — to help realize that same goal.
The service works by including a candidate’s unique “cashtag” — the identifier Square uses for its Cash service — in a tweet. Twitter will then display a “contribute” button with that tweet. Clicking that button will prompt users to share their credit card info, along with other data, then process the donation.
A spokesperson said that Twitter briefed “every campaign” before it revealed this service to the public. About a dozen candidates have signed up for the service, and several — Rand Paul, Bernie Sanders, and Rick Santorum, among others — have already used it to ask their followers to support their presidential campaigns.

A screenshot of Twitter's new campaign donation feature.

A screenshot of Twitter’s new campaign donation feature.


Neither Twitter nor Square are strangers to working in politics. Twitter has experimented with features that remind people about coming elections or make it easier for candidates to gather data about their supporters, and Square often trumpets its popularity as a donations tool during the presidential race of 2012.
But this feature might be a sign of greater things to come — (and no, I’m not using that to transition into discussing Jack Dorsey and whether or not he’ll be Twitter’s next chief executive). That horse has been beaten past death, and I don’t want to join in. I’m striking another dead horse: the rise of social commerce.
Yes, I know. People have been talking about buying things on Twitter or Facebook or Pinterest for years. Yet it’s worth noting that this announcement comes just a day after Stripe announced a new tool, Relay, that will make it easier for retailers to include “buy” buttons on services like Twitter.
Sure, other social commerce tools have failed. Remember when Amazon wanted people to add items to their shopping carts by tweeting links with the #AmazonCart hashtag? I doubt that was ever as popular as Amazon might have liked. But things like Relay show that interest in social commerce remains piqued.
The partnership between Twitter and Square also provides an interesting look at how nontraditional commerce might work for tech companies. I mean, presidential campaigns aren’t run every year, but there are plenty of other political events that could convince politicians to use Twitter to help fill their coffers.
Square’s benefit from this feature is obvious. The company takes a 1.9 percent processing fee from each donation. If this becomes popular, and encourages Twitter users to make small donations they might never have made if they had to mail a physical check, Square could benefit from processing all those contributions.
Twitter gets something else out of the deal: relevancy. One of the service’s biggest problems — aside from the fact that many of its users seem hellbent on harassing spewing intellectual bile onto anyone they encounter — is that many people don’t find it useful. Getting more involved in politics can change that.
Normal people will be happy because they can feel like they’re making a change with minimal effort. Politicians will be happy because they might be able to get some more money, while engaging that all-important millennial population. And Twitter will be happy because people are giving its service a purpose.
It’s too bad they’ll have to learn the word “cashtag” to do it.

Mobile point-of-sale firm iZettle pulls in yet more funding

Swedish Square competitor iZettle has added an extra €5 million ($6.8 million) to the Series C round it announced back in May, bringing the total for the round to €45 million ($61.2 million), and iZettle’s total investment thus far to €85 million ($118 million). The new cash comes from Hasso Plattner Ventures, the SAP(s sap) co-founder’s investment vehicle, while existing investors include banking and payment giants American Express(s axp), MasterCard(s ma) and Banco Santander. As usual, iZettle says it will use the money to sell its little card readers in more countries.

Calling all young entrepreneurial designers, Kleiner’s 2014 design program is now open

Kleiner Perkins has been restructuring itself, and part of that plan has been to emphasize the importance of product design, and work with up and coming young designers. Kleiner’s new Design Partner, the former President of RISD John Maeda, announced on Tuesday that Kleiner’s 2014 design fellows program is now open for applications. Design-minded Kleiner companies include Nest, Flipboard, Jawbone, Spotify and Square.