As you might have heard, earlier this week, Jack Dorsey and those other lucky dogs remaking the payments industry over at Square nabbed $100 million in new funding (and a $1 billion valuation) from Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers and Tiger Global Management.
So how is Square going to spend that princely sum? Buy up a farm of servers to process payments worldwide? Give an iPad (complete with Square’s new Register app pre-installed) to every Mom-and-Pop in the country?
Apparently not. Square COO Keith Rabois tells Fast Company that the company will use the funds mostly for two purposes: hiring great talent and marketing.
“The most important thing for us to do as a company is to ensure that every small business in the United States—every local business, every local merchant, every sole proprietor—is aware of Square,” he says.
Square is still mostly a small-business business. Large companies like a Macy’s or a Home Depot have yet to sign on to this new way of processing in-store payments from customers. So the company has a lot of awareness-raising to do—especially given the increasingly heated competition from alternatives, like Google Wallet, PayPal's mobile offering, or Intuit’s GoPayment system.
“People will use our product hopefully because they love it,” Rabois says. “But they need to know about it.”
So far so good: Payment volume and revenue continues to double every month, Rabois says. The latest official announcement from the company has Square on track to process $1 billion in payments per year annualized by the end of 2011. But Rabois says he hopes growth this summer will put them “well beyond that.”
Rabois, a former PayPal executive and long-time Silicon Valley investor (he’s put money into about 85 startups), says bringing the right people into Square is another key area of focus—so much so that he spends at least a third of his time as chief operating officer just on recruiting.
“[We want to be able to] take advantage of as many opportunities as possible,” Rabois says. “Right now, there are only so many things we can do.”
Square currently has 130 people, among them about 50 engineers and seven designers. Rabois says he would like to double or triple the size of those groups.
The company is bringing on one to two new people each week. It just moved into a new office—the third move in 10 months. About half the workspaces in the spacious facility are empty, but Rabois says he expects those to fill up within months.
At the same time, Rabois says, the company isn’t looking for just anyone to plop into those seats. He seeks three qualities in particular in any new hire: The ability to have unique insights into their business, even as an outsider; a certain tenacity ("Changing the world is difficult and requires dedication in addition to talent," Rabois says); and the ability to grasp new ideas and concepts much faster than the average bear.
“The team you build is the company you build,” Rabois says, quoting a comment made by new Square board member, and Silicon Valley uber-investor, Vinod Khosla at a recent board meeting.
Rabois says Square will releasing new features in July and August. He declines to say what they are exactly, saying only they will “extend and improve” some elements of the Register and Card Case features that the company announced in May.
“We’ll do a lot of things to make it even more powerful for local businesses, to make their businesses grow faster,” he says.