Thursday, March 03, 2011

This Guy Jack Dorsey

w/M.I.A.Image via WikipediaI am reading this profile of Jack Dorsey in Vanity Fair, and it has started to feel eery. I guess I have not known some details about the guy I should have known. First let me say I am an admirer. But I also threw a gauntlet his way recently: Jack Dorsey Also Has A FinTech StartUp. It was all in good faith.

I'd compare my work into Nepal's democracy movement of 2006 to Jack Dorsey's work on Twitter. The difference is my work was so cutting edge, I have not officially been given credit yet.

But look at some of these lines:

Urban strolls are one of Dorsey’s favorite activities ......

Get out of town. Someone just described ME! Urban strolls are one of my favorite activities. The article also says the guy's dream job would be to become Mayor of New York City. Wow. First time I am hearing this. I knew he endorsed Reshma 2010, but I did not realize he was all that political. Warms my heart.

I have never said I want to be Mayor of this city. But I have always known I can do it if I want to do it. Helping cure global poverty is vastly more appealing to me as a goal than help run a city that is already pretty well run.

Looks like this dude and I have a few things in common.
Vanity Fair: Twitter Was Act One: Considering that he invented Twitter and is about to launch another potential game changer with his new company, Square, Jack Dorsey has one of the lowest profiles in tech. ...... his childhood obsession (city maps) to his dream job (mayor of New York City) ...... his ejection as Twitter’s C.E.O., and his ambition to make Square the payment network of the future. ...... By early 2006, having dropped out of N.Y.U. and bouncing between jobs, he found himself working for a San Francisco software start-up called Odeo, which was going nowhere. ....... Odeo’s Evan Williams embraced the idea, and named the 29-year-old Dorsey the founding C.E.O. of a new company, Twitter. ....... this man who is one of the visionaries of the Digital Age ...... in 2000 he dropped everything to pursue a career in botanical illustration ...... he studied for a year to become a certified massage therapist ....... more recently took classes in fashion design (making an impressive pencil skirt) ......... has already set his sights on his dream job: mayor of New York City ...... back then, Dorsey was not the greatest manager. Williams and the board pushed him out within two years. And although Dorsey remains chairman of the company, he was out the door by the time Twitter had become a cultural force. What’s more, Dorsey and Williams, to this day, rarely speak to each other beyond occasional exchanges at board meetings. ...... he’s the second-largest individual shareholder in the company ....... Several months ago, Dorsey re-ignited his relationship with Twitter’s management, though only after Williams, 38, had agreed to step down as C.E.O. ...... Just as Twitter made anyone a broadcaster or pundit or diarist, Square can make anyone a merchant. ...... His optimism flows mostly from a St. Louis-bred spirit about our common life, democracy, and human potential. He claims his inventions all aim at the same goal: a society that works more efficiently and humanely. ....... (Urban strolls are one of Dorsey’s favorite activities, and he has specifically asked to be interviewed while meandering around San Francisco and New York.) ....... “What makes Jack magic is his precision,” says his friend Ashton Kutcher, who spent a week with Dorsey on a State Department-sponsored trip to Russia. “When he speaks he makes every syllable count.” Dorsey is also close to actress (and avid Twitterer) Alyssa Milano, who, like Kutcher, is struck by what Dorsey doesn’t do. He can easily captivate a room full of celebrities, she says, but not because he seeks attention. “He never really says what he does for a living,” she explains. “I’m usually the one bragging about his achievements.” ....... His ardent asceticism ..... For years he gave away the software he wrote as shareware. His apartment in San Francisco’s Mint Plaza area is spacious but austere and immaculate. It wasn’t until a few months ago that he bought his first car—a BMW M3, whose design he admires. Lately, he has become partial to Prada suits, worn with a white shirt and dark tie. His iPad case is not the functional microfiber Apple model, but an envelope of hand-sewn gray felt. When he shops, he seeks the ne plus ultra in quality and durability because he expects to keep each item for life ....... “I’ve learned a lot from ballet,” reports Dorsey, whose most recent serious relationship was with Sofiane Sylve, a principal dancer with the San Francisco Ballet. “I appreciate the coordination and the discipline. Making something simple is very difficult.” (He is currently single and remains mum about his personal life, devoting most of his waking hours to his two companies.) ...... : this is a man whose first act each day is to text his mother. ...... a human clavicle (“the most graceful bone in the body”). ..... Third Rail, an artisanal coffee shop he frequents in New York’s West Village. As he walks, he is unusually effusive. “I just had a meeting I’ve been wanting to have since I was 14,” he says gleefully, “with the taxi-and-limousine commissioner.” ...... He thinks the city ought to rip out the intrusive, noisy, balky video screens in the backseats of cabs and instead install Apple iPads equipped with a credit-card reader from Square. ....... His interest in New York City government goes surprisingly deep. And although he currently lives in San Francisco, his ultimate aspiration is to become mayor of New York. ...... Dorsey’s personal wealth may well exceed $300 million ...... Jim McKelvey, who owned the company (which archived documents onto CD-ROMs) and who today is Dorsey’s partner in Square, recalls that first meeting in 1992. “I was sitting at a terminal entering all this data, and this kid walks up behind me, with his arms straight at his sides. He was like [McKelvey speaks in a robotic voice], ‘Hi, I’m Jack.’ I said, ‘Yeah, I’ll be with you in a minute,’ and I turned around and completely forgot about him until I had to get up to pee. Jack was in exactly the same position. He’d been motionless for 45 minutes.” ....... (Dorsey is unusually good at staying focused.) In his junior year he wandered through the Web site of DMS, a large courier-dispatch company. Burrowing into its computers, he found the e-mail of the C.E.O. and wrote to him. “I said, ‘You have a [security] hole in your Web site. Here’s how to fix it. And, by the way, I write dispatch software,’ ” recalls Dorsey. ........ . He transferred to N.Y.U. and became one of the two lead programmers at DMS—in his spare time. Kidd, like McKelvey, has remained a Dorsey friend and ally ever since. ...... As the dot-com frenzy grew in 1998, Kidd and Dorsey moved to San Francisco. The businessman and his coder-sidekick launched dNet, for dispatching couriers online. They raised money, hired a C.E.O., and then the tech bubble burst. In a disagreement over strategy, the new boss kicked the co-founders out. It was the first but not the last time Dorsey would find himself ejected from a firm he’d helped start. ....... Dorsey had always kept a journal. For a while, he’d been considering the ways in which technology might streamline that process ...... He was also an early user of LiveJournal ...... In an e-mail’s subject line he wrote, “I’m at the Bison Paddock watching the bison.” His friends weren’t impressed. ..... and in 2001 sketched out a rudimentary template for a service called ..... . As a teenager, he had spent hours in gardens, drawing with a graphite pencil. Suddenly, he considered this hobby a possible career path. .... Loved the sparse structure and repetition of shape—almost fractal.” Illustrating flowers, like programming, was a “perfect intersection of art and science.” ....... But shortly thereafter, deciding that illustration really wasn’t for him, his wrist started hurting. He went to a massage therapist for treatment and, in short order, became consumed by the field. After a thousand hours of training he was certified and returned to San Francisco, where he moved into a shed in Kidd’s backyard. He quickly learned, to his dismay, that the city had a surfeit of massage therapists. So, while working as a nanny for Kidd’s daughter, Dorsey started thinking again about software—and that message he’d sent from Golden Gate Park. ...... He did some freelance coding for a harbor-ferry service. He almost got fired for having a nose ring. He wore his hair in dreadlocks; he had earrings in both ears. When he heard that a start-up called Odeo might be hiring programmers, he e-mailed a résumé. It was a typical Dorsey exercise in minimalism. Evan Williams, Odeo’s boss, remembers it reading “Jack,” with no last name. “It had just a few words—a list of companies where he’d worked,” says Williams, who signed him to a three-week trial contract. Dorsey, however, wasn’t too enthused. “It was a podcasting company,” he says. “I had no interest in podcasting. It turns out no one in the company did, either.” ......... “I was fascinated with jeans,” Dorsey explains ..... And to properly do massage, Dorsey says, one has to map the contours of the body. ...... when Apple incorporated one into iTunes, Odeo’s plans went out the window ...... “Meanwhile, I was still doing this fashion thing,” remembers Dorsey. “I had about 10 classes where we built, from drawings to construction, skirts. Pencil, asymmetrical, mini. I wanted to make jeans, but you start with skirts because they’re easy. Then Twitter started taking off—and I never got to pants.” ....... Like all great ideas, Twitter had many cooks, but no one disputes that the initial brainstorm grew out of Dorsey’s singular obsession. Shortly, they had a working product, and Dorsey authored the first tweet, cogent and Dorsey-esque: “Inviting co-workers.” ...... Williams had been struggling with Odeo’s investors and eventually bought the company back from them. Twitter seemed promising, but the firm was drifting. Employees were grumbling. Williams didn’t want to run Twitter, but instead to turn Odeo into an incubator for multiple businesses. He needed a C.E.O. But Dorsey, who had headed the venture so far, was just an engineer initially hired as a contractor. “I thought, It’s a risk, because he’d never even been a manager,” says Williams. “But Twitter wasn’t a huge deal at the time, and I thought, He has the vision. He’s got the technical chops. Let’s put him in charge.” ........ Dorsey got serious. “I took my nose ring out after our first round of financing,” he says, matter-of-factly. Twitter raised $5 million, largely from a single V.C. firm, Union Square Ventures. But managing a new company from Odeo’s wreckage was daunting. “Suddenly I became the boss of all my peers in a very damaged culture,” says Dorsey. “The morale was low.” ....... Twitter usage continued growing quickly—too quickly. Dorsey and his staff struggled to keep the service from going down. Looking back, Dorsey admits he was a flawed manager: “I let myself be in a weird position because it always felt like Ev’s company. He funded it. He was the chairman. And I was this new guy who was a programmer, who had a good idea. I would not be strong in my convictions, basically, because he was the older, wiser one.” Dorsey did a poor job explaining where he wanted the company to go. ........ “It just got a lot bigger a lot faster than anyone expected,” says Williams. “A year and a half later we’d raised $20 million, and the servers were crashing every day It wasn’t so much that the ship was sinking, but more ‘Great job, Jack—we’ve got to up our level of experience and lay some foundation for a much bigger organization.’ ” Others say the two were barely speaking by then, and in October 2008, Williams took the C.E.O. job for himself. Dorsey became chairman, but was no longer an employee. ....... He was devastated to be ejected again from a company that was building a product he’d conceived. “It was like being punched in the stomach,” he says in a rare moment of candor on the subject. Fred Wilson, who had joined Twitter’s board, puts a more benign spin on the breakup: “Ev and Jack are a little like John and Paul. They made great music together for a while, but then they both kind of got ambitious about things and didn’t see eye to eye anymore.” ....... Dorsey no longer wanted to make pants or draw flowers. He now thought of himself as an entrepreneur. And Twitter’s impact loomed large. “Twitter held all my desires in the world,” says Dorsey. He began talking with his old pal McKelvey, trying to come up with a monster concept to build a company around. ........ Says Sean Parker, the founding president of Facebook and a buddy of Dorsey’s, “Maybe Square can become for Craigslist what PayPal is for eBay.” ....... Dorsey takes his design inspiration from Apple’s Steve Jobs, whom he reveres. ....... he sees himself, like Jobs, producing an integrated system in a business where others have assembled kludgy agglomerations. “Payment is another form of communication,” he says, “but it’s never been treated as such. It’s never been designed. It’s never felt magical. ...... Dorsey talks about how Square must be “pixel-perfect,” and staffers tell stories about him agonizing over the exact location and thickness of a line on e-mailed receipts. ....... “Jack’s biggest insights have nothing to do with technology,” says Greg Kidd. “His insights are always social first. It’s always a democratization machine. Why should you have to ask permission to take a payment? ........ Cory Booker, Newark’s aggressively innovative mayor, is another Dorsey fan. “Even the way he talks about Square is about social justice,” the mayor says. “Frankly, I’m in awe of him.” ....... “This is a guy who doesn’t have a negative bone in his body.” ....... Dorsey has spent a lot of time thinking about what went wrong at Twitter. And as Square’s C.E.O., he bends over backward to be explicit, to communicate, to guide. He hosts a “town square” company meeting every Friday, where he talks about aspirations and values. To help his 78-person staff better understand why he considers design so important, he organizes trips to visit “beautiful things.” ........ Dorsey took a group to SFMoMA, where he asked them to meet at a designated time in front of a massive Rothko, its image the shape of a square. ...... doing what we do, which is carry every single transaction in the world
I will let Jack Dorsey become Mayor of New York City if he will let me become Mayor of the World.

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