Jack Dorsey dials in on his new dream job — bitcoin missionary
As CEO of Twitter — which he was until Monday when he unexpectedly resigned — the bulk of his most impassioned official communications have not focused on the power of the Twitter platform or even the deep opportunities for his other company — fintech giant Square. The former double-CEO has spent the past year spreading the gospel of bitcoin, and using his multibillion-dollar enterprises to share that same message by pushing crypto-embracing features more aggressively than his peers.
He hasn’t minced words. “#Bitcoin will unite a deeply divided country. (and eventually: world),” he tweeted in August.
At a bitcoin-centric conference in Miami this year, he was even more lavish with his praise: “For me Bitcoin changes absolutely everything. What I’m drawn to the most about it is the ethos, is what it represents, are the conditions that created it, which are so rare and so special and so precious. I don’t think there’s anything more important in my lifetime to work on and I don’t think there’s anything more enabling for people around the world.”
His executive fervor led both Twitter and Square toward embracing bitcoin and blockchain-centric features that sit deep inside platforms relied on by millions. In July, Dorsey said that would be a “big part” of the company’s future. Recent initiatives at Square have included a hardware wallet to store bitcoin and the exploration of building a dedicated bitcoin mining system.
For platforms with a multitude of unsolved and often pressing issues, Dorsey’s seemingly unilateral public focus on the revolutionary power of bitcoin hasn’t always sat well with onlookers, who already worried whether his status as a dual-CEO meant he was less in-tune with the needs of his individual companies. Early last year, activist-investor hedge fund Elliott Management issued a list of demands to Twitter — chief of which was that Dorsey would step down — after quietly bulking up a sizable stake in the company.
Dorsey’s announcement that he was resigning as CEO of Twitter sent the company’s stock soaring Monday. While some rejoiced that Twitter may meet its full potential under a full-time CEO, others speculated on what Dorsey was doing and whether he might be leaving Twitter to start a “web3” company focused solely on bitcoin and blockchain-based technologies. It seems that rather than spin up a new company from scratch, Dorsey has aimed to rethink the existing stack of opportunities inside his other company, Square. On Wednesday, he announced a sweeping rebrand, renaming the fintech company initially known for its little plastic credit card dongles, as Block, a not-so-subtle nod to CEO/founder Dorsey’s deepening infatuation with the blockchain.
Unlike the public companies of yesteryear, which could juice their stock price by adding “Blockchain” to their company name, Square is no penny stock — it’s worth nearly $90 billion already. At this point, it’s worth noting that Square has explicitly indicated that there will not be a wide reorganization accompanying rebrand, though Square Crypto is getting its own brand — Spiral. That said, it’s difficult not to read between the lines, given Dorsey’s bitcoin boosterism and the recent Square initiatives, like hardware wallets and mining rigs, which could re-position the company as crypto-first.
In many ways, Block’s hodgepodge of properties, including music streaming app Tidal and the Cash App, seems like a potential full-stack web3 empire, or it could just mean the opportunity to piss off an awful lot of different stakeholders by haphazardly weaving crypto technologies into products that don’t need them.