The Wall Street Journal has a profile out today on Square co-founder and CEO Jack Dorsey that leaked word of Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers leading a $100 million venture capital investment in the magic “square” that turns your smartphone into a credit card swiper. The investment quadruples the value of an eight-month old company to $1 billion.
But with the bonkers valuations out there and KPCB’s John Doerr’s suddenly ravenous appetite for all things tech (guess the taste of cleantech turned sour), a $100 million investment in a genuinely disruptive company, where a first-to-market might actually mean something, isn’t too shocking. Neither is the fact that Mr. Doerr’s old pal, Mary “Queen of the Net” Meeker will be taking a board seat at Square.
What we were startled by was the growing feeling feeling that there’s something about Mr. Dorsey that just sounds so familiar. A heavy emphasis on clean design. A charismatic presence at public announcements… wait a minute: @jack is kinda like a young Steve Jobs. Apple has even started selling Square in their retail stores. Dig the bullet point comparison.
1. Precocious – Mr. Dorsey began working on the dispatch system that would become Twitter as teenager. Mr. Jobs started working at HP during high school
2. Charismatic – Mr. Jobs’s reality distortion field is the stuff of legend. @jack on the other hand, is just starting to grace the cover of glossy magazines. All in good time, grasshopper.
3. Salesman – A seemingly crazy/futuristic device that will suddenly be ubiquitous? Check. A powerful presence onstage during big company announcements? Check. Getting people to pay for something that previously they were used to getting for free? Ok, Twitter is still working on that.
4. Hardware and Software – Mastering both sides of this coin is a trick few tech titans have pulled off. While Apple has integrated the two worlds, Mr. Dorsey is currently wrapped up in parallel projects that aim to revolutionize communication an commerce.
5. Relentless – Mr. Jobs has been busy revolutionizing the tech and media industries while suffering from a disease most people aren’t supposed to survive for more than a year. Mr. Dorsey currently holds key positions at two billion dollar companies and apparently does not believe in vacation.
Sure, Mr. Dorsey hasn’t established a utilitarian uniform, like Mr. Jobs’ standard issue black turtleneck and jeans. But neither did Mr. Jobs in his youth. Just give @jack some time.