Jack Dorsey: Square builds trust with 'responsible transparency'

At GigaOm Roadmap, Square's CEO said that someone must take and share notes from any company "meeting of substance" to keep all employees in the loop.

Daniel Terdiman Former Senior Writer / News
Daniel Terdiman is a senior writer at CNET News covering Twitter, Net culture, and everything in between.
Daniel Terdiman
2 min read
Square CEO Jack Dorsey spoke today at the GigaOm Roadmap conference in San Francisco. Screen shot by CNET

Square is so interested in making sure its employees feel privy to company proceedings that it mandates that someone take notes during any "meeting of substance" and then share those notes with the entire staff.

Today at the GigaOm Roadmap design conference in San Francisco, Square CEO Jack Dorsey said that his mobile payments company is dedicated to the principle of "responsible transparency," a practice that strives to ensure that no employee has to wonder what was discussed in meetings they didn't attend.

Dorsey said that meeting minutes are disseminated to all staff by sending them to notes@square.com.

"When you're just starting out, everyone's in the same meetings," Dorsey said. "As you grow, you start developing feelings: 'Why is that guy in that meeting? I want to be in that meeting.' Then you start thinking about things that are not the work."

He added that everything Square does is aligned "around the spirit of show, don't tell" and responsible transparency.

As an example, he said that prior to a recent board meeting, the company disseminated the meeting's presentation deck to all employees. "Over 600 people have the deck in their inbox," he said. That's a "huge amount of trust."

The rest of Dorsey's talk with GigaOm founder Om Malik centered on Square's design and business philosophies, which is familiar terrain for those who follow the company. But at the outset of the talk, Malik joked that Square's public relations team had warned him not to broach a particular topic: the St. Louis Cardinals' recent defeat in the World Series. Dorsey is from St. Louis and a well-known Cardinals fan.

Those in the audience and others watching the live stream on the Web likely were wondering if Malik would ask the Square founder about the real elephant in the room: Nick Bilton's portrayal of Dorsey in his brand-new book, "Hatching Twitter." In Bilton's book, Dorsey is presented as driven by revenge against fellow co-founder Evan Williams after Dorsey was ousted as Twitter's CEO in 2008.

Malik left the elephant alone, likely because he knows that since Twitter is about to have its IPO, Dorsey, still the company's executive chairman, would not legally be allowed to talk publicly about Twitter's management issues.