Jack Dorsey invented Twitter, which last week filed paperwork to go public, and redefined mobile payments with Square, which is ready to move into sparkling new headquarters in San Francisco.
Yet, he was simply Jack, Square recruiter, when he spoke to several hundred students at Columbia University [in New York] Monday night. While regaling them with stories about his youthful obsession with punk music, surrealism and St. Louis, he also made a full-throated appeal for entrepreneurial talent.
"This city has something different than Silicon Valley," Dorsey said minutes before he took to the stage. "San Francisco is great. But New York has people, dynamics, intensity."
Dorsey's visit underscores what is a budding movement among New York entrepreneurs to raise the city's profile in tech. Mayor Michael Bloomberg has started an initiative to draw engineers and designers from Silicon Valley to relocate to New York.
The 36-year-old Dorsey said New York was considered as headquarters for Square four years ago -- except it was hard to find engineers and designers.
"There is a big transformation in New York," says Richard Witten, a special adviser to the president of Columbia University. "The city's dependence on financial institutions has waned," and it needs to appeal to tech start-ups and behemoths.
During Dorsey's day Monday, he and his handlers allowed a USA TODAY reporter to shadow him for several hours -- rare access to arguably one of Silicon Valley's most successful entrepreneurs and the subject of intensified interest as Twitter hurtles toward an IPO.
Earlier, at USA TODAY's bureau here, Dorsey spoke with editors and reporters for an hour to give an update on Square's revenue growth, its expansion plans and the multibillion-dollar mobile-payment mar-ket.
Dorsey continued his cone of silence on the micro-blogging service's plan to go public in coming months, which could revitalize investors' appetites for consumer tech companies.
"No comment," Dorsey said in the first interview since Twitter filed paperwork to go public [last] Thursday.
But he offered that the climate in Silicon Valley is focused, but not as fervently as it was during the tech bubble of the late 1990s.
"I don't think of it as a bubble or resurgence (now)," he says. The business models of today, he adds, are "more substantial in providing value."
Twitter's planned IPO could lead, in part, to more tech-related stock offerings from the likes of Box, Dropbox, King.com -- maybe even Square, say tech analysts such as Patrick Moorhead, principal analyst at Moor Insights. (continued...)
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