Featured Business Leader Jack Dorsey
The rise of the technology start-up has been huge in the business world. Since the beginning of what was known as the ‘dot-com bubble’, there have been many amazing technology-focused companies created, maintained and sold across the globe – and there have been many incredibly successful entrepreneurs and innovations born from the boom. One such entrepreneur is Jack Dorsey – the brains behind several successful technological innovations.
Born in St. Louis, Missouri in 1976, he developed an interest in technology, and the innovations available in technology, at an early age. He was fascinated by challenges and how they could be solved with new technology – for example, the problems inherent in coordinating taxi drivers, delivery vans and other fleets of vehicles. When he was 15, Dorsey wrote some dispatch software that is still used, at some level, by some courier and taxi companies in the USA.
He began tertiary studies at the Missouri University of Science and Technology, and then transferred to New York University – but he left college before completing his degree in order to move to Oakland, California, and build a company through which he could sell his dispatch software.
During his time at college and in private enterprise, he entertained the idea of creating a platform in which friends could share instant-style messages in a broad, dispatch-style format. He approached a Silicon Valley company, Odeo, with the idea – an opportunity to share your current status with your friends so they would know what you were doing. Jack Dorsey, and two executives from the now-defunct Odeo, Evan Williams and Biz Stone, formed a side project company to explore the idea.
Jack Dorsey built a simple website around their idea in the space of a few short weeks, and Twitter was born with a simple tweet from Jack himself – “just setting up my twttr.” To this day, he retains his original Twitter handle of ‘@jack’. When the program was built and running, Jack Dorsey was named CEO of the fledgling company – a role he held for 2 years, before co-founder Evan Williams stepped into the role. Jack Dorsey remained as company chairman at the completion of his tenure as CEO.
Twitter, however, was not an overnight success. In its early days, it was represented as a tool for the shallow and self-centred, because of its ability to share a wide variety of mundane and unnecessary updates. However, Twitter grew in stature and usage after celebrities and politicians began to utilise the free service as a communication opportunity. In 2008, the two candidates for President of the United States used Twitter as a platform to share their ideas and initiatives with the masses. Since then, the service has grown from strength to strength – according to statistics provider Statistic Brain, as of July 2014 there are over 645 million registered, active Twitter accounts – and these users generate 9,100 tweets per second.
In 2010, Jack Dorsey elected to explore further technological advances with other companies, and invested heavily into a social media service called Foursquare, and launched a new company called Square. Square allows people to receive credit card payments through a tiny device plugged in to their mobile phone or computer, revolutionising electronic funds transfers for a wide variety of businesses. The Square, Inc. company, of which Jack Dorsey is CEO, continues to grow – in 2014, it was valued at $5 billion, and they are continuing to explore innovations and ideas that make day-to-day online usage more efficient and secure. “In terms of technology, we’re going to see a better and more immediate experience around the everyday things we do in life” said Dorsey.
As an avid lover of social media, the stories of how so many of my favourite platforms came to be are of great interest to me – and the entrepreneurial spirit shown by Jack Dorsey both with the creation of Twitter and the building of Square is incredibly impressive to me. I’m curious to see what happens next for him, whether it’s within the bounds of Square, Inc. or beyond.
What do you think of Jack Dorsey’s path to success – do you like or use the services he’s created? Do you believe that he has more to offer? And on a side note – what’s your favourite entrepreneurial business that was born thanks to the ‘dot-com bubble’? Let me know in the comments!
This article was written by Simone Ball on behalf of the Australian Institute of Business. All opinions are that of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the opinion of AIB. The following sources have been used to prepare this article: Biography, Wikipedia, and Statistic Brain. Image sourced from AdWeek.