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It may have started a revolution, or at least fueled one. But the revolution that is Twitter began seven years ago today, when creator Jack Dorsey wrote the first-ever tweet. Since its creation, Twitter has been used to announce presidential candidates, and play a pivotal role in dictators being toppled.
"The moment for me was when I was watching the State of the Union after Obama was just elected President," said Dorsey. "The cameras were panning around to the congressmen and congresswomen, and they all were like on their phones. And I was like what is going on, they're being rude the president is speaking right now. And I get a buzz in my pocket, I took out my phone and it's Senator Claire McCaskill saying, 'I'm watching the President give the State of the Union.' And there's this amazing connection between the two. It becomes very, very small suddenly and I just love that feeling."
Having conquered the new media universe, Dorsey is now ready for an encore. His latest creation, mobile payment device Square, is already worth millions. Square is a small device that plugs into the headphone jack of iPhones, Androids, or iPad devices, and allows users to swipe credit cards and accept payments. Users hand over their phones to payers, who can then sign off on the transaction with their fingers. The money is transferred the next day.
It was an invention that appears so obvious now, yet didn't exist before.
"That was our big question: Why hasn't someone done this before? And it turned out that it was just navigating the industry," says Dorsey.
Dorsey got big business to sign onto Square - Starbucks now accepts his latest technology, Square Wallet, an app that allows users to pay without touching their phones. It is also accepted at smaller venues, like neighborhood coffee shop Cafe Crumpy in New York, where Dorsey demonstrated how it works.
"My phone is in my back pocket. I walked up and my name is on the register so all I have to say is I had the espresso and the latte and just put it on Jack. There's a picture of my face," says Dorsey, pointing to a screen by the register, where a photo of Dorsey appeared so the cashier can verify Dorsey is who he says he is. The money is transferred immediately.
Twitter also functions with a sense of immediacy. As a kid growing up in St. Louis, Dorsey had a fascination with maps, CB radios, and police scanners.
"If you listen to a police scanner they are constantly reporting where they are, what they're doing, where they're going," says Dorsey.
Those short bursts of his youth manifested itself in a computer program where friends could similarly provide that information to their network of friends.
"I could go out anywhere I was, and type I'm at the Vice Empatic in San Francisco, Golden Gate Park, and my friends would receive it in real time."
His goal, he says, is to add a little magic to everyday experiences, drawing comparisons to Steve Jobs. Dorsey is seen as carrying the mantle of somebody who is creating technology that changes our lives in major ways, things that combine technology and design - something Jobs did with various Apple inventions.
"It's definitely humbling," Dorsey says of the comparison. "The biggest thing I learned from Steve Jobs is he was more than anything else an artist and he had no constraint of what he wanted to see in the world and he had this amazing ability to convince people it should exist."
Dorsey is based in San Francisco, but has said being mayor of New York City would be his dream job,
The "desire to be mayor is more of an aspirational kind, or raising the bar of how I should be thinking," says Dorsey.
For now, Dorsey says he is focused on Square, so much so that he claims he doesn't have time to date.
"I'm enjoying my life. I work really hard. I spend a lot of my hours at the office and working with people, that's just what I like doing," says Dorsey.
"I look for very, very deep relationships, I'm very discerning," says the 36-year-old. "It takes me a long time to just enter into a relationship and find the right person, but when I do it's really deep and meaningful and I tend to give myself 100% to things I love and believe in."