Jack Dorsey on Twitter, Square, and the City as Inspiration

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  • (From left) David Kirkpatrick, Jack Dorsey, Dan Gilbert

Speaker

Jack Dorsey
Chief Executive Officer, Square

Interviewer

David Kirkpatrick
Founder and CEO, Techonomy


Jack Dorsey, Chairman of Twitter and CEO of Square, joins David Kirkpatrick of Techonomy and Dan Gilbert, Chairman of Rock Ventures and Quicken Loans and majority owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, for the final session of Techonomy Detroit. Below is an excerpt from the discussion. For a full transcript, click here.

Dorsey: My parents grew up in St. Louis and they love the city, and I naturally grew a love for the city when I grew up there. I became obsessed with maps and taught myself how to program so I could draw them on my computer. I eventually got into the dispatch industry so I could actually see life in the city.

Kirkpatrick: Dispatch being systems that communicate with taxis and police cars and ambulances. So Twitter aims to give individuals that same ability to broadcast their location and whereabouts and ideas?

Dorsey: Twitter was just an extension of that idea, giving those tools to citizens. With Twitter, I can see the entire world, what the entire world is doing and also what the entire world is caring about in real time.

Square is this tiny device that you plug into your phone, and it allows you to swipe anyone’s credit card, and that money goes into your bank account the next day. This is important because the world has moved away from cash and checks, and it’s paying with plastic everywhere.

Normally the small merchant, the independent contractor, was locked out of accepting credit cards. So we made it simple. If you have a garage sale or you are a personal trainer, golf instructor, tutor, or mowing grass, now you can accept credit cards. A critical aspect of improving the U.S. economy is making it easier to start and grow a small business. So now they can start something that they want to see in the world immediately and get payments for it.

Kirkpatrick: You told me a year or so ago that you wanted to be mayor of New York some day.

Dorsey: I have to move to New York first, but it is a goal. I think mayors are the ones to watch in the U.S. in terms of government innovation.

Kirkpatrick: What should Detroit do?

Dorsey: What I find compelling about cities is the question of velocity. One way to speed up the change is to overcommunicate and to make more available and more transparent the data of how the government is running, what needs to change, why it needs to change.

Kirkpatrick: You recently gave a speech in which you talked about being a revolutionary.

Dorsey: It was at a technology conference called TechCrunch Disrupt. The key word is disrupt. I questioned this word because disruption to me is actually just moving things around. It actually causes a lot of confusion. I don’t want to disrupt things. What does have purpose, what does have strong beliefs and leadership and usually recognizes a disruption happening or about to happen are revolutions. My plea to the audience was to rethink the concept of disruption and be more thoughtful about how we approach technology and what we’re trying to do in the world. there is risk. You’re going to take big risk and move things forward.

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  • Carolyn Hall Young

    Thank you for this thoughtful conversation. It was a privilege and a pleasure to listen to the discussion.