Merry Christmas: Jack Dorsey Hands 10% Back To Square

Jack Dorsey gives backThis morning Fortune reported that Square CEO Jack Dorsey is returning 10% of his shares to the company. Dorsey’s share of Square is 30% and the portion he is returning equals about 3% of total equity.

It’s pretty unusual for a founder to hand equity back to the company. After all, they are the ones who took the early risk, and most of us can agree they earn the rewards a successful company brings.

Instead the portion Dorsey is returning will open up shares for potential hires and acquisitions, without the dilution that normally comes with those things. Dorsey told Fortune that he hopes to encourage employees to take risks.

One of the principles we hold fundamental here is that an idea that can change the course of the company can come from anywhere in the company. I hope we are building an organization that is not dependent on one person or a group of people who were here in the early days.

Okay, let’s be honest. Thanks to his role at Twitter, Dorsey is already a billionaire. And, his 27% stake in Square still equals around $877 million. He’s been in the realm of FU money for awhile now.

Which is kind of the point. Dorsey is running a very successful company, and there are on-again, off-again rumors of a 2014 IPO. People are willing to come work at Square, and other shareholders understand that dilution is part of the equation. There’s no expectation for Dorsey to give back equity.

Still, at the Square holiday party, Dorsey announced that he’s returning a large number of shares back to the company. The move signals that he cares more about the company than his own (admittedly, already considerable) wealth. It’s a brilliant way to enhance company culture and create a large number of very loyal employees. Who wouldn’t follow a guy like that?

Fortune suggests that some will see it as PR to cover Dorsey’s less-than-stellar showing in the Nick Bilton book Hatching Twitter. The truth that such a move would help his personal image would never have escaped an entrepreneur as savvy as Dorsey, but he insisted to Fortune that it wasn’t the driving force behind his decision.

The less than flattering press is about a time at another company, and I can’t let that define this company and I can’t let that define my future.

Honestly, though, who cares what the underlying motivations are? Dorsey’s move will help his employees, both current and future, and it won’t really hurt him any. In that situation, it just seems like a win-win if he also garners some goodwill he may have lost.

Merry Christmas, indeed.

Seattle Startup Zulily’s Valuation Reaches $1 Billion Dollars

Zulily,Seattle startup,startup,startups, billion dollar valuation,square,foursquare, instagramBack in September we brought you this interview with Zulily co-founder Darrell Cavens. Zulily is an online marketplace featuring daily deals for kids,mom’s and women. The company started out with just kids stuff and then expanded and started offering women’s clothing and accessories along with housewares.

It was announced on Thursday that the Seattle based startup has raised $85 million dollars from Andreessen Horowitz, one of the top valley venture capital firms that holds interests in companies like Instagram and Skype.

Jeff Jordan the former CEO of Open Table and partner at Andreessen Horowitz, characterized Zulily as an example of “e-commerce 2.0″ in a blog post.  He also said that Zulily was part of a renaissance in innovation among e-commerce players.

That wasn’t all that attracted Andreessen Horowitz to Zulily. The company’s founding team that’s already had tremendous success in the e-commerce arena in a niche market. Mark Vardon and Darrell Cavens were also the team behind Blue Nile which is the largest online retailer of certified diamonds and other fine jewelry. Jordan also cited the fact that Cavens was the head of both technology and marketing, ” a combination of functions I had never encountered before as an internet executive”, he wrote in the blog post.

Zulily has been very successful in carrying goods from lesser known designers who lacked distribution and then spun it into a business with over 10 million customers to date.

Last year Zulily raised $43 million dollars at a valuation of $750 million dollars. Although they didn’t report a valuation with today’s round, Business Insider quotes Fortune’s Dan Primack valuing the company at $1 billion dollars.  This puts Zulily in the same company as other startups like Square, FourSquare and Airbnb.


Check out Zulily here

Here’s our interview with Zulily

Source: BI

Are you coming to “everywhere else”?, you should.


Groupon To Go Head To Head Against Square On Mobile Transactions

Groupon the daily deals site is reportedly interested in entering the Mobile Commerce field to compete with the likes of Square and most recently PayPal. The company who is embroiled in controversy in almost anything it does, from how it reports it’s profits to how it stock raises, wants to handle your money.

Business Insider is reporting that it’ll charge 1.8% transaction fee and a $0.15 per transaction charge for payments that they process. Whereas Square charges 2.75% with no per transaction fee and  PayPal Here charges 2.7%, also with no transaction fee. In a risky move, Groupon will provide not only the device that retailers can charge customers, but also an iPod Touch to take the payments with. Like Yahoo, which recently made waves by releasing a semi browser for the web, and an iOS application, Groupon which keeps failing and is being mishandled would rather throw as many things against a wall and see what sticks versus fixing what’s wrong and instead is trying to hide from this.

Source: Business Insider

St.Louis Startup: BonFyre Brings Social Network Back To Campus, Attracts Square Co-Founder Jim McKelvey

Last month we brought you the story of LockerDome a social network for amateur athletes based in St.Louis. LockerDome was able to attract some key investors and advisors. One of those is St.Louis native Jim McKelvey who just happens to be the co-founder of the widely popular mobile payment startup, Square. McKelvey co-founded Square with Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Another social networking startup has also received backing and advice from McKelvey. McKelvey sits on the board of Off Campus Media LLC, the paurent company to the BonFyre app.

BonFyre was founded by Mark Sawyier, a graduate of Washington University. The app is a social media and location sharing app aimed at college students looking to plan what’s next with friends, find out what’s hot and save money around campus.

One of the main concepts behind Bonfyre is to take the social network back to students. We all remember the days when Facebook was exclusive to students with a college email address. While everyone wanted to join this exclusive club (and we all eventually did), the exclusive college nature of Facebook at the time, made it more about sharing social events with friends and then getting out and doing stuff together.

More after the break

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Google Wallet Co-Founding Engineer Joins Square

Fresh on the heels of the departure of Google Wallet’s Jonathan Wall, co-founding Google Wallet engineer Rob von Behren has departed the internet giant as well.

In what von Behren categorized as an unplanned move, he has left Google entirely for Square’s San Francisco office. von Behren told the NFC Times:

“When I left the Google Wallet project in January, I fully expected to stop working in payments but to remain at Google,” he said. “After meeting the team at Square, however, I decided to do the opposite. Square is doing some great things in the payment space. They have a strong leadership team and a culture that fosters innovation.”

Square’s current solution doesn’t rely on NFC. They manufacture a dongle that connects to your Android smartphone or iPhone and allows small businesses to purchase credit card transactions by swiping a card through the dongle.

Square has just re-released their consumer app which is now called “Pay with Square”. This payment method allows people to pay without submitting a card for swiping.

The app uses geolocation to identify account holders in proximity. This would be a really good place to start looking for NFC integration.

source: NFC Times