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Mobile payments startup Square expands to New York — the city it wanted to call home all along

When a tech start­up announces a major expan­sion on three fronts simul­ta­ne­ous­ly, you don’t have to be a mas­ter prod­uct man­ag­er to know that its prod­uct is tak­ing off. Smart­phone tech start­up Square, whose free cred­it card read­er facil­i­tates easy and secure mobile pay­ments, is doing just that, with a major expan­sion of its San Fran­cis­co head­quar­ters, a new office in Canada’s Kitch­en­er-Water­loo (which will please recent­ly laid off Black­ber­ry employ­ees in the city) and, most impor­tant­ly, a new office in New York.

Square ‘belongs in New York’

On read­ing this intro, the more obser­vant prod­uct man­ag­er will be ask­ing why a new office in New York is ranked as “most impor­tant.” Well, it all has to do with the beliefs of Square’s co-founder and CEO, Jack Dorsey (yes, that’s the same Jack Dorsey who is the cre­ator, co-founder and Chair­man of Twit­ter).

Dorsey, it turns out, is a New York enthu­si­ast. The startup’s new office there will be the base for tripling the company’s engi­neer­ing tal­ent in the city – a process Dorsey him­self dubs “aggres­sive.” At a recent round­table he host­ed at Colum­bia Uni­ver­si­ty, he said that he had a num­ber of rea­sons for believ­ing that Square “belongs in New York”.

“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,” he said.

But why the Big Apple now?

At the time, the prob­lem wasn’t so much a lack of tal­ent as the lack of a sin­gle meet­ing place for engi­neers and design­ers in the Big Apple. But that lack of com­mu­ni­ty has been trans­formed now, Dorsey says, and is no longer a problem.

Many prod­uct man­agers who’ve been fol­low­ing trends would agree: Bono­bos, for exam­ple, moved from San Fran­cis­co to New York last year, attract­ed in part by the tech tal­ent pool there.

Dorsey went on, “This city has some­thing very dif­fer­ent from Sil­i­con Val­ley. New York­ers are fac­ing dif­fer­ent issues, and the peo­ple in New York are actu­al­ly liv­ing the prob­lems we are try­ing to fix.”

He also announced that Square will be invest­ing heav­i­ly in recruit­ing more women in New York, because of the “dif­fer­ent per­spec­tive” they bring with them.

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