Mobile payments company Square is announcing today the opening of a larger, expanded San Francisco-based headquarters. In addition, the company announced plans for new offices in both New York and Kitchener-Waterloo, Canada — a location that could help the company take advantage of recently laid off employees from beleaguered Waterloo-based company Blackberry which saw massive layoffs just last month.
Square moved into its new corporate headquarters at 1455 Market Street in San Francisco last week, it says, and as of today, the offices are open to visitors. The office is more than 150,000 square feet, which is three times the size of the company’s previous space in the San Francisco Chronicle building. Meanwhile, the number of worldwide employees have doubled year-over-year, going from approximately 300 in 2012 to nearly 600 at present, says Square.
The growth has led Square to seek out new office space outside the Bay Area, in locations that are both strategic for Square’s growth as well as areas where engineering talent can be found. In New York, where the expansion news had leaked out to Buzzfeed in August, the company has signed a lease for an office in the SoHo area, and plans to triple its engineering presence there within one year. The Canadian office – Square’s first permanent office in the country – will open in 2014.
Square also has offices in Atlanta and Tokyo, the company notes.
Square Wanted To Be A New York Company
A few weeks ago, Square CEO Jack Dorsey hosted a roundtable at Columbia University to weigh in on recent developments in smartphone tech, Square’s future, and specifically New York as a suitable spot for startup growth.
At the time, he noted that Square Wallet in particular would play a crucial role in the company’s growth. As with all new payment schemes, however, Dorsey said he believes that ushering in a new sort of consumer behavior will take a broad stretch of time.
“We believe we can shorten that time frame significantly with Square Wallet,” said Dorsey.
He also explained that the direction of Square Wallet is in line with the direction of all technology, in that technology is slowly fading to the background and pushing focus on the people using it. “With Square Wallet, you walk up to the counter and confirm your name and you’re done,” said Dorsey. “You’re paying with who you are, and all you need is you.”
Where outside innovations are concerned, Dorsey said he believes that Apple’s new fingerprint reader is a slight boon to the evolution of payments on mobile. “Anytime there is better protection on the forefront, to even enter the device — people have a lot of sensitive information on their phones — that will help with changing behavior towards payments,” he said.
However, Dorsey doesn’t believe that the implementation of finger-print-level security is squarely focused on payments. Rather, building security into the phone is there to protect the entire package, not just to facilitate or protect a single part of the phone.
Dorsey also pre-announced the NY expansions then, revealing that Square will be growing the New York offices by three times by the end of the year, a plan he calls “aggressive.” He noted also that he felt that Square belongs in New York for a number of reasons.
“We actually tried to start the company in New York almost five years ago, but we weren’t able to hire the engineers and designers we needed to at the time,” said Dorsey.
In his perspective, New York had more of a marketing problem than a talent shortage, as it seemed that engineers and designers weren’t meeting in a single place on a regular basis. In other words, there was a lack of community. Luckily for New York, Dorsey says that isn’t a problem anymore, which is a theme we’ve seen play out elsewhere.
For example, Bonobos moved its team to New York from San Francisco in March.
“This city has something very different from Silicon Valley,” said Dorsey. “New Yorkers are facing different issues, and the people in New York are actually living the problems we are trying to fix.”
Dorsey wasn’t entirely clear on the type of hires he’s looking for to fill out the rapidly expanding SoHo office in New York, but he did mention that the company will be “heavily investing” in bringing more women on board as they offer a “different perspective” for Square.