BUSINESS

Square, Mobile Payments Giant, Just Filed For Its IPO

The startup, founded and run by Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, will list on the New York Stock Exchange.

NEW YORK -- Square, the mobile payment firm co-founded by Jack Dorsey, on Wednesday filed for an initial public offering.

In a press release, Square said its shares would be listed on the New York Stock Exchange under the ticker symbol "SQ." The company's Form S-1, filed with the Securities and Exchange Commission, did not specify the price of the shares or how many would be available for sale. Square hopes to offer up to $275 million in stock, though that amount may be subject to change

Based in San Francisco, California, the business is currently helmed by Dorsey, who is also the CEO of TwitterSquare offers peripherals for smartphones and tablets, allowing vendors to accept credit card payments, track their stock and send invoices.

The move is sure to send ripples through a financial world that has seen significantly fewer IPOs this year. No private U.S. companies valued at $1 billion or more -- so-called "unicorn" firms -- have gone public yet in 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal. Square was valued at about $6 billion a year ago, following a $150 million funding round.

The IPO filing comes more than a week after Twitter named Dorsey its permanent chief executive. The decision, just as Square was expected to go public, drew criticism from those who believe Dorsey's split attention will be blamed for future stumbles at the payments startup.

Even Square's SEC paperwork nods to the challenges Dorsey's dual responsibilities present.

"Jack Dorsey, our co-founder, President, and Chief Executive Officer, also serves as Chief Executive Officer of Twitter," Square wrote in its S-1. "This may at times adversely affect his ability to devote time, attention, and effort to Square."

Square will need all three.

The company processed $30 billion in payments from millions of merchants last year, and has begun offering business loans and payroll processing. But it's losing money. Its $104.5 million in losses in 2013 ballooned to $154.1 million in 2014. So far this year, Square was losing $77.6 million by the end of June, according to The Verge

To avoid withering under Wall Street's scrutiny, Dorsey will need to build out strong teams at both Square and Twitter, which lately faced its own ruthless probing by traders and analysts.

"To make something like this work, you have to have a world-class team around you," Sydney Finkelstein, management professor at Dartmouth College’s Tuck Center for Leadership, told The Huffington Post recently. "Effective leaders delegate. In this case, you probably have to delegate more than normal. … You have to be able to process in your brain two different worlds."

But -- despite Wall Street's obsession with quick, quarterly gains -- Dorsey said he plans to take a long-view approach to Square.

"As a public company our decisions will continue to reflect what we’ve done as a private one—we put our customers first," Dorsey wrote in the filing. "That means constantly asking the question: how can the financial system better serve people? We’ll measure ourselves by our commitment to take the long view and focus on building a company that creates value over decades and not just a few fiscal quarters out."

CONVERSATIONS