Square prides itself on transparency. This can be seen in the office’s open floor plan and glass conference rooms, but transparency also means sharing everything with its 600-plus employees. “Any meeting of more than two people, someone’s required to take notes and send them to an [email] alias,” said Square’s founder and CEO. And that mentality extends to board meetings as well: Last week, all employees were sent a 250-page report. “If we constantly do that, we can build a company that regenerates,” he said. “Selfishly, it’s just the simple thing to do. It’s very hard to keep secrets. It’s very easy to give information, and people can interpret it any way they wish.”
Two days ahead of Twitter’s IPO, Dorsey wasn’t talking about the social network’s origins, his cofounders, or social media’s impact on television and news. He was in full Square mode, speaking about money’s role in society, its design approach, and open company culture in a fireside chat with Om Malik at GigaOM’s Roadmap conference in San Francisco.
Dorsey also said that Square’s success is due largely to the fact that his engineers and designers built products for buyers rather than sellers. “When you’re building for yourself, it’s easy to have passion, to have drive,” Dorsey said. “We love these merchants we go to. We love places like Blue Bottle and Sightglass [local coffee chains]. We want to do right by them. That kind of framing helped us get into the sense we’re building for ourselves still.”
As an example, he pointed to Square Cash, which lets people send and receive money via email. “It’s just an eye-opening experience. It felt so easy. I just want this to be everywhere and use this for everything,” he said.
The company that’s transformed mobile payments has spurred a host of competitors and copycats, but Dorsey isn’t too concerned. “I think it’s easy for a lot of companies–whether they’re small startups or cafes around the corner–and look at competition and react purely to them. If you react to them, you’re doing someone else’s roadmap.”