Photo: Flickr / cogdogblog
Square has hired a lot of former Apple designers, and its culture is becoming similar, according to a former Apple employee close to the situation.According to LinkedIn, 19 Square employees used to work at Apple. Only Google has fed more people to Square — 31 at last count. Square has about 300 people total, LinkedIn reports.
Like Apple, Square’s culture is really centered on design. So product leaders push out a design for a particular product, then expect their designers to produce it on a short production schedule.
That’s why the designers work until 8 pm every night, although that’s typical of any startup, our source said.
No doubt the Square reader is designed well, but if the company is too design-focused then that can get in the way of building a product that people actually want, our source said. He said it feels like his former colleagues are all drinking the Kool-aid there.
In particular, Square will have to convince merchants it’s worthwhile to carry around an extra attachment to their device. Our source is not convinced that an external card reader is the best solution for taking mobile payments.
Square does have an alternative, Pay With Square, that lets users pay from their mobile phones without even handling a credit card. But PayPal, Eventbrite, and big banks are all building similar payment systems, and other technologies like Google Wallet (based on NFC chips) or RFID payment chips might also take off.
Square recently hired one of the cofounding engineers of Google Wallet, so perhaps the company is thinking along the same lines.