Author Archives: laureltouby

Cop or disco driver?


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by | May 22, 2012 · 6:18 pm


Attending Jon’s Aunt Penny’s funeral.


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Interview with Jack Dorsey at the Techonomy Conference

Here are some comments made by Jack Dorsey, co-founder of Twitter/founder of Square, in an interview with David Kirkpatrick at Techonomy. These are very rough notes. Just wanted to get the info down!

Kirkpatrick: Were you thinking that you’d create such a tool for empowerment when you started Twitter? [not sure of this question. fudging it!]

Dorsey: Empowerment wasn’t in my mind when I built twitter. It was a just a technology I wanted to use. To go anywhere and be in contact with people I care about. Turned out to be more of a utility…Shortening the gap of feedback between [all kinds of entities].

Kirkpatrick: Why are so many leaders/organizations still operating in the old way [top down]?

Dorsey: Stubbornness and ignorance. As humans we resist change. It’s not fun all the time to be reflective/self-aware. It means we have to do work.

Kirkpatrick: How do you balance the two companies you run, Twitter and Square?

Dorsey: Discipline and practice. I theme my days.
Monday is for management meetings and running the companies.
Tuesday is product day.
Wednesday is marketing/communications/growth day.
Thursday is partnerships day.
Friday is recruiting day.
Saturday is for hiking.
Sunday is for reflection.

Kirkpatrick: How much time do you spend on each company?

Dorsey [quips]: Each company gets 8 hours a day

Kirkpatrick: What unites the two companies?

Dorsey: Both are utilities that an individual or organization of any size can use immediately. Twitter you can broadcast to the world, figure out what’s happening in the world right now. Square, anyone can instantly start a business. Currently, 90% of people pay with plastic cards. Small businesses can’t tap into this. Square enables you to immediately start accepting credit cards. Individuals can do this.

Both Twitter and Square are true utilities. Everyone comes to each and defines the service and what they want to do with it. [Dorsey states that he wants to keep Twitter/Square a bit amorphous. Doesn’t want Twitter to just be for entertainment. Doesn’t want Square to be just for taxicabs.]

Kirkpatrick: Why should I not be skeptical about Twitter’s prospects for revenue [really being worth its multi-billion $$ valuation]?

Dorsey: The business model is focused around serendipity. You are searching for certain things, all of these searches and interests expressed equal intent. It’s a signal you like certain things….Promoted tweets, promoted trends, promoted accounts. Through those, you see introductions to topics that are deeply meaningful to you…What matters most is user experience, if experience fails, we have the wrong model. When adwords first launched with google, people were resistant. Google has found it makes search better. Advertising should be content. Targeted well enough, it’s something you want to see. How do I introduce you to something you want to find, another algorithm or more curation.

Kirkpatrick: How do you imagine Square in 5 yrs? What will it do in five years?

Dorsey: A point of sales system that handles every single payment device in your pocket. Interesting channel with receipts. It’s a publishing medium. Square is about that communication channel. Cardcase [new product Square recently introduced]…links credit card. Can see merchants around you. You can automatically open a tab with that merchant.

Kirkpatrick: What about NFC – near field communication — aka Google Wallet? [the competition]

Dorsey: I would rather just use my name to pay. From the technology standpoint, NFC only gives a merchant the person’s name after the transaction … With Cardcase, the merchant can know and delight the customer. That builds loyalty.

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9 Things I Learned Starting


Not so long ago, I was one of you, an editor and writer, who had worked for many years in the media and saw my calling as something halfway between beat reporter at BusinessWeek and novelist, monkishly writing atop some mountaintop – or (more likely) in a local East Village café.

If someone had told me “one day, Laurel, you’re going to start a company, hire and manage 40 people, grow it to millions of dollars in sales and sell it for millions more?” I would have said “You’re out of your mind! I don’t even want that. Just give me a shot at Harper’s.”

But, I’m here to say that going from THERE to HERE is NOT a crazy impossible road to follow. If a math idiot with no understanding of finance, no tech chops, no prior experience managing a team — much less running a company — can do this, then anybody can!

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Ah, Venezia!

We foolishly planned NO time to really see Venice. It’s been rather a whirlwind tour (one night only!). But, in that time, we met and interviewed a couple of local biodynamic wine-makers (that will be a recurrent theme in Italy; Jon is fascinated with this subject); we’ve had a meal or three, we’ve kind of recuperated from the long trip here.

(Top) A classic shot of Venice, from our taxi to the hotel where we stayed, Hotel Bonvecchiati. (Bottom) One of Venice’s famous biodynamic wine-makers, Mauro Lorenzon. He also owns a fabulous little wine bar/restaurant called Enoteca Mascareta.

Click on the link for other photos from the day in…  Venice

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Welcome to CultureTripping!

Jon Fine and I are traveling around the world for the next six months and this is the place where we’ll be sharing info about our travels. We hope you’ll join us for the ride.


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