Take Our Tour Of Square's Offices, Where They're Trying To Open Up Credit Card Payments To The Masses

Square tour

What’s new at Square, the buzzy mobile payments startup cofounded by Twitter creator Jack Dorsey? (The company that sends out little plastic credit card readers that you can use on an iPhone, iPad, or other mobile device to accept credit card payments.)

Square CEO Dorsey tells us the company has ramped up production of its little credit card readers to 10,000 per day. It just redesigned the reader to be compatible with Apple’s iPhone 4 — the previous edition interfered with the iPhone 4’s external antenna — and will start shipping out the new ones soon.

Soon the push will be getting more small businesses and individuals to use Square to accept credit card payments. The idea is that this would be helpful for food truck operators, boutiques, people who want to take credit cards to sell stuff on sites like Craigslist, friends who owe each other money, etc. — basically anyone who wants to accept money via credit cards but doesn’t want to (or can’t) deal with a big payments processor.

Square has sent out tens of thousands of devices so far, but the company hit an early road bump when it realised that it wasn’t allowing people to handle enough transaction volume for the device to be helpful (the initial $700 per week in credit card transactions isn’t much). But Square is increasing those limits and working other back-end tweaks to make the system more useful.

It’s still too early to tell if Square is going to be a big hit, but it’s an interesting and very ambitious idea.

We recently stopped by Square’s San Francisco headquarters for a tour.

Square's offices are in the San Francisco Chronicle building on Mission Street, south of downtown

Square takes up the space that used to be occupied by the Chronicle's classified department. Better them than Craigslist, we suppose.

Big windows and tall ceilings make for a bright office, even on this grey morning.

This iMac shows live tweets about Square. Don't forget that Square CEO Jack Dorsey also created Twitter.

Catered breakfast: Today, oatmeal. (It's late morning, so it's already been picked over.)

Obligatory startup kitchen shot.

That's the Square management team in the back-left.

CEO Dorsey (left) gets a demo of the new Square hardware from engineers Sam Wen (ex-Boeing) and William Henderson (speaks Tibetan).

A quick intro to the hardware: Square's little adaptor (the white plastic thing) lets you scan credit card info into a mobile device, like an iPhone.

That's cofounder Jim McKelvey seated at left, and new GM Keith Rabois at the bottom-left of the picture. Admin Jane Quigley is sitting in the back of the photo.

Rabois, also a prolific angel investor, just joined Square after the last company he worked for -- Slide -- was acquired by Google.

Square is now producing 10,000 of these little devices a day. This is the latest edition, which was necessary because the last one had a metal fitting that interfered with the iPhone 4's frame/antenna.

Dorsey has an interesting real-time view at commerce through Square's users. He says the universal price of a cappuccino worldwide is about $2.77.

In here's the money hose

Here's Square's support department, from right to left: former LA music producer Devon Dawson, Jynn Louie, Ani Niow, and Jonathan Paull.

Jonathan Paull is finishing his degree in graphic design

This is what a bowl of Square devices look like. (The previous generation, with a metal fitting that interferes with the iPhone 4 antenna.)

On the left, some bigger Squares for iPad users.

Now meet some of Square's engineers: Interaction designer Beau Smith is an avid kite surfer, Chris Kampmeier works on credit card processing, and Paul McKellar is an aspiring astronaut

Engineer Chris Kampmeier digs Square because he says it's the smartest group of people he's ever worked with. (Kiss-up!)

Secret engineer meeting!

Interaction designer Beau Smith checks out the master plan

This isn't a Square -- this is Holger Luedorf, Foursquare's newish VP of mobile and partnerships. He works out of Square's office, in exchange for Square getting a few desks at Foursquare's HQ in New York.

Across the street: The old San Francisco Mint. Good inspiration.

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