MediaFile

Jack Dorsey’s impractical double duty

Editor’s note: This piece originally appeared on PandoDaily.com.

Can we finally stop pretending someone can run two companies if they just work hard enough or are brilliant enough?

I’m looking at you, Jack Dorsey, Twitter CEO Dick Costolo, Twitter investor Peter Fenton and everyone else who spent years arguing that it was totally doable. In various interviews and private conversations throughout 2011, people close to Twitter consistently maintained it was no big deal that Dorsey could build Square – one of the single most ambitious, capital- and execution-heavy startups of our day – and run product at Twitter – a company that was woefully behind on any meaningful product innovation and desperately needed a visionary leader.

You know what they all said whenever anyone asked whether this was sustainable. And you know it even if you’ve never heard it firsthand. “Well, Steve Jobs did it.”

If there’s one phrase that’s more annoying than “What would Steve Jobs do?” it’s, “Well, Steve Jobs did it.” But here’s the reality: Steve Jobs barely did it, and he was Steve Jobs.

It’s widely acknowledged that Jobs was not nearly as involved in the day-to-day operations of Pixar as he was at Apple. And Walter Isaacson wrote in his biography of Jobs about the toll of filling both positions, saying that Jobs believed his health issues started when he was running both companies. The other example people bring up is Elon Musk, who runs both SpaceX and Tesla. But Musk too has said for years it’s not an ideal situation and is “way past the fun part.” Neither Musk nor Jobs – two of the greatest entrepreneurs of our time – have said it was remotely sustainable.

Starbucks and Square want your phone to be your wallet

After years of fits and starts, the prospect of using your phone to make purchases instead of your credit and debit cards is entering a promising era. The struggle for who will control your virtual wallet is intensifying, and while it’s far from certain what will replace plastic, it’s almost certain something will, very soon.

This isn’t about a gimmicky new way to separate you from your money. It’s about replacing credit and debit cards, and all of their vulnerabilities, with your phone. That phone will be linked to those same cards (and bank accounts), potentially enabling you to pay as you go without toting around cards or cash, and even without taking anything out of your pocket.

Within this revolution, there are two different technologies hoping to become the default. This time, instead of Betamax and VHS, we have NFC (Near Field Communication) and GPS (the same kind you use to navigate a map).

The Life of Jack: Twitter/Square co-founder details his grueling workweek

Managing a fast-growing tech start-up is not a job that everyone is cut out for.

Managing two of today’s hottest start-ups simultaneously? That’s a feat that could overwhelm even some of the corporate world’s biggest egos.

Somehow, Jack Dorsey, the co-founder of microblogging service Twitter and mobile payment company Square, is managing to pull it off, putting in 8 hour days at each of the two companies every day, without collapsing into a pile of jello.

How does he do it?

Dorsey, who serves as Chairman of Twitter and CEO at Square, shed some light on his double-duty worklife during a talk at the Techonomy conference in Tucson, Arizona on Sunday.

Tech wrap: Olympus shareholders want entire board purged

Pressure mounted on Japan’s Olympus to take radical action after it admitted to hiding losses on securities investments for decades, with the camera and endoscope maker’s largest foreign investor demanding the resignation of the company’s entire board. Southeastern Asset Management, which owns about five percent of the 92-year-old company, said Tuesday’s admission “changes everything”.

Brushing aside new Olympus President Shuichi Takayama’s insistence he was “absolutely unaware of the facts,” Southeastern told Reuters correspondents Sinead Cruise and Kirstin Ridley that any further reign of the Olympus board risked damaging the company’s key medical business. Takayama, a previous board member who was promoted last month, blamed former Chairman Tsuyoshi Kikukawa, Vice-President Hisashi Mori and internal auditor Hideo Yamada for the cover-up, saying he would consider criminal action.

Former Olympus CEO Michael Woodford, who was fired on October 14 after persistently asking why the company had spent around $1.3 billion on obscure fees and acquisitions, told Reuters that the company’s partners should come under close scrutiny after Tuesday’s admission and that questions remained to be answered about the money trail. “You need forensic accountants going in there to find out where the money has gone, who has worked with Olympus, who has cooperated with Olympus, who has received fees from Olympus,” he told Reuters Insider. “Those are questions we need answered. And then we need an impairment test.”

Tech wrap: And Myspace goes to . . .

News Corp’s hunt to find a buyer for once-mighty social networking website Myspace has finally ended. Specific Media, an online advertising firm, has agreed to buy the site for about $35 million, a source familiar with the deal told Reuters. News Corp will retain a minority 5 percent stake in the website it purchased six years ago for $580 million. More than half of the site’s 500 employees are expected to be laid off as part of the deal.

Tech watchers will have to wait at least another sleep to find out more about Zynga’s plans for an initial public offering. A source familiar with the matter told Reuters that the online social gaming firm behind popular Facebook game FarmVille is expected to file for an initial public offering with U.S. regulators on Thursday morning. Earlier reports suggested the company could raise up to $2 billion in the offering and value the firm as high as $20 billion. AllThingsD’s Kara Swisher sizes up how Zynga’s expected IPO fits in with other recent filings from similar companies such as Groupon.

Twitter’s Biz Stone and Evan Williams are leaving the site they co-founded and helped popularize – sort of. Both men will continue to advise Twitter on strategic matters but will spend the bulk of their days working at the newly-revived Obvious, the tech incubator company they started years ago that led to the creation of Twitter. Stone summed up their new plans in a blog posting on his website: “Our plan is to develop new projects and work on solving big problems aligned along a simple mission statement: The Obvious Corporation develops systems that help people work together to improve the world.”

Tech wrap: Amazon vs eBay…fight!

A photograph of a computer screen showing the website eBay is shown in Encinitas, California April 22, 2009. REUTERS/Mike BlakeEBay said it will buy e-commerce service provider GSI Commerce for $1.96 billion in cash to build up its online marketplaces, as it ramps up its battle with Amazon.com. GSI is attractive to eBay because of its expertise in taking customer orders, managing them and filling them, which also happens to be an area of strength for Amazon. GSI, which owns Web businesses such as Rue La La and ShopRunner, also provides retailers such as Aeropostale and TJX’s Marshalls chains with technology, payment processing and customer care services for their e-commerce sites.

There will be no iPhone 5 announcement at Apple’s 2011 Worldwide Developers Conference in June, according to The Wall Street Journal’s John Paczkowski. Instead, we should expect a software event, Paczkowski writes, quoting an Apple’s WWDC press release: “If you are an iOS or Mac OS X software developer, this is the event that you do not want to miss.” He goes on to speculate that the delay may be due to Apple timing the release of  a 4G LTE-compatible iPhone 5 with AT&T’s expected roll-out of its 4G LTE networks mid year.

Apple “piled another brick onto the ramparts of its walled garden,” only considering apps that are sold through the Mac App Store for this year’s Apple Design Awards, The Register’s Rik Myslewski writes. “This move makes it clear that Apple is enforcing a two-tiered status for Mac OS X apps: those it allows into the store, and those that remain outside it,” Myslewski adds.

For Web startups, 2011 kicks off with flood of funding

MARKETS-KOREA-FOREX/The East Coast has been buried in copious amounts of snow this winter. In Silicon Valley, the only thing falling from the sky seems to be money.

If the first couple of weeks of the new year are any indication, Web startups appear to be awash in cash, with every day bringing one or more high-profile funding announcements.

The latest company to join the fund-raising parade is Formspring, which announced Wednesday it has raised $11.5 million in a round led by Redpoint Ventures. The San Francisco online social networking service, which has garnered more than 20 million registered users since launching 14 months ago, actually raised the money late last year, but had not disclosed the round until now, CEO Ade Olonoh told Reuters.