Most little kids like sports, not little Jack. At an early age, Jack Dorsey became fascinated with real-time dispatch software for taxis, delivery vans, emergency vehicles and other fleets. At just fifteen, he wrote his first dispatch software.
Square is a privately held company that was founded by two friends, Jim McKelvey (currently a board member) and Jack Dorsey (co-founder of Twitter and CEO of Square), in 2009. Square is not just a mobile payments company-they are a commerce company. They’re currently headquartered in San Francisco, California and operates in the US, Canada and Japan, with plans to expand into new markets. The idea originated from a personal problem. McKelvey couldn’t sell a $2,000 glass faucet because he couldn’t accept credit cards. This limitation triggered the “aha moment.” He thought others must be struggling with this problem too.
Mckelvey, a computer engineer, discovered that payments could be accepted via a dongle that plugged into the headphone jack of a mobile device. He pitched Dorsey. You could say it was good timing for him, Dorsey was being publicly ousted as the CEO of Twitter. Things happen for a reason, right? You’ll often hear entrepreneurs credit a portion of their success to luck and timing.
Dorsey aligned the dots and embraced the opportunity. The idea was simple: everyone should be able to accept credit cards. The one inch white dongle works on iPhones, iPads, Androids, and tablets. Getting your business started with a Square Reader is easy. After you activate your Square account, they’ll automatically ship a reader, free of charge. Square charges merchants just $2.75 percent per swipe or, for merchants who swipe less than $250,000 a year, a flat fee of $275 per month. There are no hidden fees, adding a unprecedented layer of transparency in the payments industry. Square has raised close to $600 million dollars (which includes investments from Visa) in funding and is currently valued at more than $6 billion.
“My goal is to simplify complexity. I just want to build stuff that really simplifies our base human interaction.” – Jack Dorsey
Why is Square called Square?
Square was initially called Squirrel. The card reader was even a wooden acorn. Imagine if people said, “just Squirrel it.” Possibly, Dorsey was reliving his early days at Twitter. The Twitter bird was named Larry, after NBA legend Larry Bird. If the squirrel survived, who do you think Dorsey would have named it after? Scott Forstall, SVP of iPhone Software, recommended that Dorsey come up with a different brand name. Additionally, there was a POS company in Canada called Squirrel Systems. Dorsey quickly dropped the rodent reference. He needed something that aligned with their mission, something simple and that people would trust. He took a page out of Noah Glass’ book (founder of Odeo, which would later become Twitter). Dorsey picked up a dictionary and looked for words that started with Sq. He came across Square. The two sayings were perfect – “Fair & Square” and “Squaring Up.” Square was born. You’ll even notice their domain is Squareup.com. Other brand names included Seashell (original payments for goods, way back), Stash and Wallet.
Simple, Elegant & Apple-Esque
See Also: Why is Venmo Called Venmo?
Product Selection- Not Just Card Readers
- Square Register – The pocket size point of sale
- Square Stand – Transform an iPad in a point of sale
- Square Market – Open your free online store
- Square Cash – Send a request money for free
- Square Appointments – Online scheduling that put you ahead of schedule
- Square Order – The fastest way to your morning coffee
Additional services include advanced reporting, customer feedback and invoices. Square is evolving into an end-to-end business solution for small businesses that happens to take payments.
From swiping to dipping. In 2015, EMV chip cards are finally coming to the United States. This change aims to reduce fraud. It’s harder to replicate a chip card than a magnetic-stripe card, as the chip creates a unique impression every time a transaction occurs. Are you familiar with the word “Tokenization?” if not, Square explains the technology on their blog. This transition will be a big change for not only Square, but the payments industry as a whole. Thanks for reading “Why it’s Called Square?!”. #whyisitcalledSquare
Post Update: Square went public in 2015. What’s next?
Adam Lang is the founder and editor of Rewind & Capture. He is passionate about creative marketing, design and brand etymology.