Business

Dorsey enthusiastic about making a Square investment in Jamaica

BY RICHARD BROWNE
Business editor
browner@jamaicaobserver

Wednesday, December 06, 2017

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Jack Dorsey, CEO and founder of both Twitter and Square, relishes the idea of opening up an office in Jamaica in the near future.

“It's my first time in Jamaica and it's only been a few hours but I love it,” Dorsey said while being interviewed on stage at Tech Beach 2017 by Kirk Anthony Hamilton at Iberostar Rose Hall on Saturday.

“It would be a dream to open a Square office here in Jamaica,” Dorsey said. But the move would “need a banking partner and then government regulatory approval,” he added.

“If Jamaica makes it easy to start — that would make it much easier,” the self-made billionair said, noting that every country has it's own regulations.

And as Venezuela consideres the development of its own crypto-currency, one of the fastest ways for Jamaica to attract Square would be for it to move forward with the acceptance of digital currency.

“If Jamaica just regulates Bitcoin we could be Jamaica tomorrow,” Dorsey said, expressing great interest in having discussions with Gabriel Abed, founder of bitt on developing a Caribbean digital currency.

During his interview Dorsey gave some information on his own journey from growing up in St Louis, Missouri as the son of two entrepreneurs, to becoming one of the world's most succesful techpreneurs.

His home had a CB radio and a link to police radio, which allowed them to track developments, including traffic in their home town. Dorsey wanted to develop those capabilities further, to be able to visualise that information.

“My whole life has been an extension from developing this idea,” Dorsey said, “and taking it to the next level.”

Twitter was originally a way to broadcast information, he said, but then developed from user input, first as a way to reference someone, and then to the idea of developing hash tags and retweets, he said.

“The story of Twitter is how we have been very good at reconising how people want to use it,” he said. “Everything has come from how people wanted to use the platform.”

Square, a system which allows small merchants to easily offer credit card payments Dorsey developed later, with Jim McKelvey, the man who was his second boss. His first boss was his mother, who had opened a coffee shop in St Louis where — incidentally — the top selling coffee was Jamaican Blue Mountain.

Both Twitter and Square started “with a sense of deep purpose,” Dorsey said. Twitter, enabling communication for everyone, even with a simple SMS phone, and Square seeking to allow the underprivileged to become a part of the economy.

“A sense of purpose is what we started with for both,” Dorsey said.

Several large Jamaican businesses were present at the seminar including Stephen Facey and Paul Hanworth from PanJam, Melanie Subratie from Musson Jamaica and Douglas Orane former of GraceKennedy. While no ministers of government appeared to be present, Jamaica's Ambassador and a succesful entrepreneur herself, Audrey Marks, was in attendance along with Jampro representatives Dianne Edwards and Claude Duncan.

Many of the attendees spoke glowingly of the retreat and expressed an interest in coming to next year's Tech Beach. Several though it likely that with the success of this year's event and its ability to attract Jack Dorsey, that the event will continue to grow.

With a couple hundred attendees, the intimate retreat has significant scope for growth. Web Summit — considered the tech world's answer to World Economic Forum at Davos in Switzerland — hosted some 60,000 participants in this year's event in Lisbon, Portugal.

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