Le Web Kicks Things Off With Jack Dorsey

It’s about 9:45 am Paris time here at the sixth annual Le Web conference. Kicking things off is Twitter creator Jack Dorsey, who just launched his new startup, a mobile payment platform and service called Square, talking with Le Web’s Loic Le Meur. There are 2,300 registered attendees at the event, the most ever, and it looks like most of them have jammed themselves into the main floor to see Dorsey talk.

The audience is eating this up. A large screen next to the stage is showing real time tweets related to the talk, and a new one is popping up every second or faster.

Dorsey is kicking things off talking about his initial vision for Twitter (our first post). “I knew the concept was huge,” he said on stage. “The hardest part of any idea is getting started.”

Dorsey says he’s been surprised by the velocity of growth, and the ways that users have changed it – retweets, @mentions, hashtags, etc., were all invented by users.

Jack’s now giving the audience one of the first live demo’s of his new startup, Square (see here for a video of our demo). Square lets users make payments over a mobile phone, starting with the iPhone. The hardware will be given away for free, he says.

Funny enough, the demo isn’t working properly, although Loic says it worked perfectly back stage. Dorsey switched from wifi to Orange’s mobile network and the payment went right through.

Dorsey is highlighting the social aspects of the service. A picture of the payer pops up if they’re a registered user, adding security to the transaction.

The service is in limited beta, says Dorsey. And a number of retailers around the U.S. are accepting payments via Square.

Dorsey says the service will go live for all next year, hopefully by March. He also responded to a question I asked about Apple’s explorations into this space – they will become a direct competitor. Dorsey says they’re focused on the user experience, getting people in without contracts, merchant accounts, etc. Apple is doing things differently.