Twitter has revolutionized the way we communicate 140 characters at a time and has catapulted its co-founder, Jack Dorsey, to legendary status.
The Wall Street Journal named him "innovator of the year" in 2012. Fortune recently ranked him second on their top 40 under 40 list. Reuter's and Popular Science have compared him to Apple's Steve Jobs.
Related: #TwitterIPO: Let the Frenzy Begin!
Dorsey's next project, Square, could be even bigger. The rising star now has his sights on commerce; changing the way you and I buy and sell goods.
Started in 2009, the company allows merchants of all shapes and sizes to accept any form of payment they choose – cash, checks, or credit cards - and replaces the bulky cash register with Apple's (AAPL) iPhone or iPad.
"We want to make commerce easy and if we make it easy we can help our sellers grow and really give them time back to build their business and focus on what’s important to them," Dorsey tells Breakout in the attached video. "The merchant doesn’t have to think about which card brand is coming over the counter and if it’s cash or if it’s check, they just focus on their business and that’s what we want to enable them to do."
That may sound like change enough, but the potential game-changing feature of the company is the data it provides to users.
"What’s your most popular item, what happens on a Tuesday, what’s your most popular day, what happens when it rains? These are pieces of data that a lot of local businesses, a lot of neighborhood places just don’t have access to because it’s spread out over so many systems," Dorsey explains. "But Square makes it easy. You can literally watch in real time."
The Square founder hopes it will allow small businesses compete with corporate giants.
Last week’s announcement that Square is partnering with Intuit (INTU) to merge sales data with the popular QuickenBooks software takes it all a step further and could rattle the nearly $100 billion accounting industry.
While all that data does give small businesses a leg up, it's caught the eye of some big companies too.
"Starbucks (SBUX) came to us and said we want to use Square as well," says Dorsey. "We really want to use this technology because we love the experience you created. Starbucks is using the same infrastructure that the corner coffee store is using and competing basically on the merit of their idea and the merit of their product and that is such a beautiful idea."
The next step in this commerce revolution is a move toward mobile payments. Dorsey and his team are on the front lines with a program called “square wallet.” It’s an app that allows you to “check in” at a business. When you’re ready to pay, just tell the cashier your name and you’re done. Square’s software stores your payment information and a picture of your face. The business rings you up with one touch of an iPad or iPhone after making sure your face matches the name you give.
"I don’t necessarily see cash diminishing completely from the world, it will always have some place," Dorsey says. "Cards will always have some place, mobile payments will take hopefully a larger chunk and we think that’s a big part of our future and we’re investing heavily in (it)."
It's not a new idea. Google (GOOG) wallet is dipping its toe in mobiles payments, PayPal has a Square-like service and Verifone (PAY), a leader in payment systems, has started building platforms for mobile payment.
So what sets Square apart from the competition? Dorsey’s vision.
"We have a cohesive and broad road map around commerce and around every single aspect of that commerce as one utility," he says. "And we think that’s meaningful and we haven’t seen that from other folks...There are 26 million businesses in America alone that don’t accept credit cards. So Square actually creates that potential to make it."
Meanwhile, Dorsey’s first company, Twitter, has grown to be an integral part of society and is planning to go public in the coming months. If Square follows in those footsteps there’s no telling how big an impact it could have on the way we buy and sell goods. As with anything Dorsey touches, it seems the sky’s the limit.
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