With those debates more or less decided, Dorsey these days focuses most of his time on Square. He still spends Thursday afternoons at Twitter, where he's executive chairman and holds a weekly lunch with Costolo.
Steve Wilson, an analyst at Constellation Research, noted that Twitter essentially created a new category of communication before anyone realized it was needed. With Square, on the other hand, Dorsey identified a huge and lucrative problem with an existing market. In the United States alone, credit card payments are expected to hit $31 billion a year by 2016, according to an estimate by industry newsletter The Nilson Report.
"Amazing that no one thought to jump in before" to bring small merchants into that ecosystem, Wilson said. While he and others call Square a tempting acquisition target for a major financial services player, Dorsey insists he's building for the long haul.
To be sure, Square faces plenty of competition, from entrenched payments giants like Verifone and eBay's (EBAY) PayPal unit to startups like Clinkle -- which drew gasps around Silicon Valley in June by raising a $25 million "seed" round from titans including early Facebook investor Jim Breyer and PayPal co-founder Peter Thiel.
"Square is primarily a credit card reader for your iPhone or Android device. To me, that's really not mobile payments," said Lucas Duplan, the 22-year-old who founded Clinkle last year with a bevy of other young Stanford University programmers.
Dorsey acknowledges that Square Wallet, which his company rolled out in 2011 to let consumers buy things via smartphone, has struggled for widespread acceptance despite two rebrandings. But he's content to focus on building services for small merchants, confident that the consumers eventually will follow.
"Jack holds true to his vision of empowering local business," said Mary Meeker, of Kleiner Perkins Caufield and Byers, who sits on Square's board along with fellow venture capital star Vinod Khosla and former U.S. Treasury Secretary Larry Summers.
Dorsey and Henderson applied that same sense of vision to their new offices, which take up parts of four floors in a dowdy former Bank of America data center. The theme is one of a miniature city, with conference rooms named for famous streets and a grand "boulevard" the length of two football fields.
But Dorsey said the headquarters is more than a pretty place. Much thought went into breaking the open floor plan into clusters, to preserve the camaraderie of a small company.
And in discussing the finished product, Dorsey said something that might sum up his entire approach to design: "It's not just about how it looks," he said. "It's about how it works."
Contact Peter Delevett at 408-271-3638. Follow him at Twitter.com/mercwiretap.
Get hip to Square
Jack Dorsey's mobile payments company offers a growing suite of products:
Square Reader: Lets anyone accept credit cards via a smartphone or tablet for a 2.75 percent transaction fee.
Square Register: Helps merchants track payments, manage inventory and share menu information with customers.
Square Wallet: Allows consumers to pay at local businesses automatically via smartphone.
Square Market: Newest addition is an eBay-like marketplace that lets Square Register users set up online storefronts.
Source: Staff research
Jack Be Nimble
The lowdown on Jack Dorsey, who helped build two billion-dollar companies -- Twitter and Square -- at the same time.
Born: St. Louis
Education: Dropped out of New York University to launch his first Silicon Valley company in 2000.
Lives: San Francisco
Making history: In March 2006, Dorsey sent the world's first tweet: "just setting up my twttr."
Human touch: Takes every new Square employee on a walking tour of San Francisco.
Source: Staff research
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Original headline: Jack Dorsey: With looming Twitter IPO and Square's new digs, innovator's hot streak continues
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