Processing $11 Million A Day, Jack Dorsey Says: “We Don’t Want To Make Square All About Taxi Cabs”

Jack Dorsey’s mobile payments startup Square is now processing $11 million a day in mobile payments, it was revealed today at the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Arizona. Host David Kirkpatrick threw the number out there as something Dorsey had told him backstage—the last official number was $10 million a day and Square may not be consistently above $11 million yet. Either way, this is up from $4 million a day just last July.

The key to Square’s rapid growth in Dorsey’s mind is the same thing that propels Twitter: “We haven’t defined a lot of how people are going to use them.” He sees both as utilities which can be adopted to different purposes by their users, and that is what makes them so powerful. “We don’t want to make Square all about taxi cabs,”” he says. “And we don’t want to make Twitter all about celebrities and politicians.”

The other thing that Square and Twitter have in common is that they are both essentially communications technologies. Dorsey thinks of the receipt as a publishing medium (kind of like TWitter). “It is a communication medium between the business and the consumer,” he says. But normally it is something we throw away. That communication between merchant and payer is where the “exchange of value” lies. Payments is just something “we need to do” to create that communication.

Taking a swipe at NFC payments, he notes that they lack that communication layer. “NFC only gives the merchant the identity [of the consumer] after the transaction.” By identifying the customer when they walk in the door, as Square is trying to do with its new Card Case product, there is better chance to build loyalty by doing something for the customer before they even pay.

Asked about Twitter’s business model, Dorsey notes that Twitter’s ad products (Promoted Tweets,Promoted Accounts, and Promoted Trends) are getting engagement rates “between 1 and 5 percent.”

He doesn’t call these ads. “We wanted to build a business model that felt like it was part of the network,” he says. “I don’t think of it as advertisement in the traditional sense.” Rather, he wants to “introduce you to something new.” Of course, if those Promoted Tweets were really as delightful as he makes them out to be, they would be clicked more than 5 percent of the time.

Jack Dorsey: “The Hardest Thing For Any Entrepreneur Is To Start”

Twitter and Square co-founder Jack Dorsey took the stage at the GigaOm Roadmap conference to talk about his experience being well, basically a jack of all trades (rimshot).

 

Dorsey revealed that both his own and his family’s experiences with entrepreneurship were inspiration for his two current startups — both of which remove friction from human communication and industry, a process Dorsey described as “getting rid of the ‘conceptual debris’.”

 

Dorsey has long identified with the struggles of entrepreneurs; He brought up the example of his mother, who ran a small coffee shop in St. Louis, “Starbucks came and it didn’t go so well,” he said.

 

Then he brought up his dad, who co-founded “Two Nice Guys,” a pizza restaurant also in St. Louis. When Dorsey’s dad and his co-founder began to hire people, Dorsey said, they promised each other they wouldn’t date any of the wait staff. “First person to get hired is my mom,” Dorsey went on, “And so my dad had to leave the business and I was born.”

 

Before quickly relating these stories, Dorsey said that companies need to start quicker and iterate more; “The hardest thing for any entrepreneur to do is to start.”

 

One of his favorite things about Square, he emphasized, is that it helps companies start, “It is amazing, you are in business right away, in terms of anyone being a retailer. The line between consumer and retailer, the counter blurs. You see this at Apple, people don’t wait in line, don’t wait behind a point of sale system, there is no counter. It takes the friction out.”

 

Dorsey said that Silicon Valley’s culture of mentorship also appealed to him because of its frictionless quality, “Any entrepreneur can come up to me and discuss and idea. As people who are also just getting started, we need to make sure that we’re always accessible to people who want to start something new.”