“The future is in this room. It’s in your head, and your job is to distribute it around the world,” he said to students.
In addition to Twitter, Dorsey has started a company called Square to try to change the way payments are made. The built-in credit and debit card reader inserts into a smart phone or iPad and allows anyone to start accepting payments from anywhere. It combines the functions of a credit terminal and cash register and also allows customers to pre-order products on their phones and pick up their orders in stores. Using Square, small business owners can easily accept credit cards.
Dorsey discussed his work at Square extensively on Tuesday. According to Dorsey, the small ice-cream shop Bent Spoon in Princeton recently jumped on the Square bandwagon and began accepting cards through the device.
Dorsey said 94 percent of commerce still occurs offline, often through old-fashioned and time-consuming cash registers and paper receipts. “You should not have to think about the mechanics of payments,” Dorsey said. Square also avoids hidden costs and fees merchants incur from allowing credit-card payments in stores.
Dorsey said entrepreneurship is often about creating a “disruption [in the way] people think about things.”
“Disruption is confusing, makes people feel uncomfortable, resets expectations ... but really all disruption does is move things from point A to point B,” he said.
However, Dorsey said his company tries to go beyond disrupting existing ways of life.
“It’s not disruption that we’re trying to perform ... What we actually want to do is create revolutions. Revolutions have purpose; revolutions have values ... Revolutions have directions,” Dorsey said.
Dorsey advocated using entrepreneurship and taking risks to make a positive impact on the world. He explained he did not initially intend to become an entrepreneur. He said he wanted to become a sailor in order to see the world, or a tailor or even a surrealist artist.
For Xin Yang Yak ’14, Dorsey’s presentation changed the way he viewed entrepreneurship and the motivations behind starting a company.
“It was kind of surprising that he didn’t want to be an entrepreneur in the start,” Yak said. “Entrepreneurship is not just for the sake of entrepreneurship.”
Dorsey said he takes as much pride in the company as the product it produces through what he describes as a revolutionary perspective. “We believe that if you want to build a beautiful product, you have to build a beautiful company,” he said.
According to Dorsey, the best companies in the world are “constantly resetting” by allowing for continual improvement. The main way in which Square accomplishes this is by encouraging ideas to come from anywhere within the company.
“We believe very strongly that an idea that can change the course of the company can come from anywhere,” he said. “The future of our company is in our company. We just need to figure out where it is and distribute it.”
Allowing ideas to permeate through all levels of the company requires all members of the company to listen to others’ ideas, Dorsey said. The company holds regular meetings called “Town Square,” in which coworkers can pitch ideas and ask questions.
Thomas Truongchau ’14, who is interested in entrepreneurship, said he learned that building a good product is not enough and that a well-structured company is required for success.
“What the talk taught me is to put a lot of attention into functionality and design ... There’s always a design aspect that matters a lot,” Truongchau said.
Dorsey made an analogy between company structure and the construction of the Golden Gate Bridge. The bridge project was a balance between craft, love and passion, Dorsey said, but its most important feature is that “it does not fall down.”
Similarly, in a successful and resilient company, all of these aspects must strike a balance.
“A small team can do really epic, amazing things that last, and last beyond one human lifetime,” Dorsey said.
Original URL: http://www.dailyprincetonian.com/2012/09/26/31266/