You cover a lot of ground hanging out with Jack Dorsey. In just the first 15 minutes of a visit to the San Francisco headquarters of Square, which makes the device that turns a smartphone into a credit/debit card machine, we cover the way he structures his time, how the company organizes work, a recent acquisition, group meetings, corporate transparency and what he eats for breakfast every morning (two hard-boiled eggs with soy sauce). We dart into the company’s cafe, where he insists I try a Kombucha, a fermented tea energy drink. He urges me to try the grape version; bottles of the cherry variety, he explains, tend to explode. “You won’t like it at first,” he warns of the vinegary brew. (He’s right.)
Now we’re off touring more of the third floor of the storied San Francisco Chronicle building. Dorsey looks over the shoulder of someone sitting in an open area among long rows of desks, plying a big-screen Mac, and then joins a discussion at a tall table between a group of graphic artists and marketing staffers. There are conference rooms–21 of them, all glass-enclosed, all named after notable squares, like Tahrir (Cairo), St. Peter’s (Vatican City) and Old Market (Nottingham, where the legendary Robin Hood may or may not have hung out). In one darkened room a handful of engineers work on integrating a large project with Starbucks, which will soon rely on Square to process all credit and debit transactions in its U.S. stores.
“We encourage people to stay out in the open because we believe in serendipity–and people walking by each other teaching new things,” says Dorsey with a slight wave of his hand. “But every now and then you need to focus as one team.”
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Story by Eric Savitz
Photos by Nick Bilton