Square CEO Jack Dorsey, in town last week to announce a new credit and debit card reading device called Square Terminal, reiterated his commitment to growing his business in St. Louis, alluding to a likely downtown office for the San Francisco-based company and stating his desire to see the company hire a significant number of development professionals.
Dorsey said he’d like the number of software developers to account for at least 40 percent of Square’s St. Louis workforce, which today totals nearly 500. Square officials have said they have the capacity for approximately 800 moving forward.
Square will start small, hiring an engineering manager and two software engineers in St. Louis. Such hiring prospects are significant for St. Louis considering the company moved its operations from St. Louis to the West Coast in 2009 after it struggled to find the needed tech talent to scale the business.
Dorsey said the St. Louis office, which initially opened in 2015 with fewer than 200 employees, has followed the blueprint of other satellite offices around the world, which are staffed with a small number of Square employees from San Francisco to start before training and hiring local talent.
“We’ve proven (St. Louis) can be sustainable and will continue to add new jobs,” he said.
Dorsey, who said he came to St. Louis three to four times a year, was at Square’s Cortex innovation district office, at 4260 Forest Park Avenue, to introduce Square’s newest product, the Square Terminal.
The all-in-one card processing device will allow merchants to ring up sales, accept multiple forms of payment and print receipts. It connects to Wi-Fi so merchants can take the device to a diner’s table, for example, and features a touchscreen about the size of an iPhone.
Square’s Head of Hardware Jesse Dorogusker said the device, which will cost $399, was faster than point-of-sale terminals used by most retailers, processing a transaction in about two seconds as opposed to the industry average of up to 15 seconds.
The device also charges a flat 2.6 percent transaction fee on top of a 10-cent charge for every payment. Sellers who are new to Square qualify for a $300 processing credit that would drive the cost down to $99.
The device has been beta tested with a few dozen small businesses nationally, including DeMun Professional Cleaners in St. Louis.
Carrie Green, owner of the cleaners at 726 De Mun Avenue, said the device was faster and less clunky than her previous point-of-sale terminal. “Customers also like that we can accept mobile payments, too,” she said.
It’s the first product-launching that Square has hosted in St. Louis, which Dorsey said was symbolic of its commitment to the city.
Dorsey said he met with St. Louis Mayor Lyda Krewson during his trip here and asked her where the city needed investment. Krewson told Dorsey, who also serves as chief executive of Twitter, he could be of most help by adding jobs downtown.
Dorsey said that as Square continued to grow, it could be expected that the company would be adding more jobs and office space in St. Louis, in addition to its office in Cortex.
The company has previously been connected to downtown buildings such as the Railway Exchange, at 615 Olive, as a potential tenant. And another native St. Louisan, Jim McKelvey, Dorsey’s co-founder at Square who now serves as a board member, recently acquired the St. Louis Post-Dispatch headquarters building at 900 North Tucker Boulevard, with plans of renovating the six-story, 235,000-square-foot building and leasing out three of the floors to new tenants. The Post-Dispatch is remaining on two floors of the building as a tenant.
Dorsey didn’t detail where Square could expand, noting the company was looking all over the city.
“I’m committed to the city,” he said.