Image copyright Getty Images Image caption Jack Dorsey is famously protective of Square
Twitter’s cloud processing platform Square has renamed itself Block – and it’s leading an engineering leadership push.
Twitter’s chief executive Jack Dorsey owns just under 30% of the business.
And while Twitter faces pressure over its format, and its commitment to user safety and security, this could be a sign that Dorsey is keen to refocus on providing a variety of services to businesses and individuals.
The company is working on an alternative to PayPal – and is talking to Apple, Google and others, potentially in the run-up to an IPO.
A spokeswoman for Twitter told the BBC that naming the service Block is an “aesthetic gesture” to reflect the company’s belief that by the end of 2019, the platform will be an open, neutral and open marketplace for commerce.
The company is currently hiring.
Why the name change?
Block was co-founded by CEO Jack Dorsey – and the name change itself was a decision made by Dorsey himself, who founded Square with his college roommate.
When I asked the company in December if there was any significance to the name change, a spokeswoman said it was to “help simplify the tool’s functionalities and to offer more choices for partners and customers”.
She declined to comment further.
Jack Dorsey, who has received the Mass Ave award for leadership, said Square is a “product to be a part of your life every day”.
Originally the pitch from Square was to let businesses accept card payments through their smartphone.
Users could snap up a card and swipe the reader, making transactions from home.
Then Square introduced its mobile point-of-sale (“PoS”) device – a smartphone-sized card reader and a hardware device that attaches to a business’ front window – and allowed customers to pay for goods with their credit cards.
The PoS device is actually the successor to Square’s first product, the Card Case – a wallet-sized device that serves as an extension to a smartphone.
‘Human history is littered with companies that take on incumbents’
Alan Mamedi, a real estate developer who founded charity Innocent Apparels, is the first client on the block – after purchasing a point-of-sale device and a white card case from the social network in December.
“They have got a platform that is a delivery platform, with a complete safety guarantee,” he told the BBC.
“To put everything together, the design and the smoothness of the functional design, and all the services on that platform, it’s pretty phenomenal.”
Jim Lindeen, a chief technology officer at mobile technology firm Rdio, told the BBC: “It’s the first time I’ve seen a description of that as ‘blockchain’. I don’t know much about that, but it’s going to be interesting to see if it’s something blockchain… develops over time.”
He said the recent tech industry crash was a good sign for the stock market.
“When companies are founded with a bunch of investors who are smart and look for future innovations in retail and payments and cloud and so on, that only bodes well for the future.
“Human history is littered with companies that take on incumbents and change them, and just hold onto the first mover advantage. If they can make it, they’ll hold onto it – and the history book will mention ‘the founder’.”
Twitter has always run Square, by outsourcing the deal to Square.
Sources told the BBC that the company has never made a profit from payments at Square, and has only covered its costs. But as part of Twitter’s push to open itself up to businesses and individuals, the company may now be able to make a profit.
New products could be announced by the end of the year.