Square Is At Risk Of Succumbing To One Of The Worst Fates In Silicon Valley: Mediocrity

It’s been a tough year for Square.

The Wall Street Journal published a piece in April saying that its losses were so huge that it was discussing a possible sale. It recently shut down its much-hyped Wallet app. A few months ago, people claiming to be employees were complaining about working there on the app Secret. CEO Jack Dorsey’s reputation got smeared in Nick Bilton’s “Hatching Twitter.”

Now, Fast Company’s Austin Carr, who got access to Dorsey and other Square higher-ups, just published a story about Square’s future that portrays it as a company struggling to figure out its strategy and stay relevant.

Carr describes the slew of new products that Square has churned out in the last year as it tries to find ways to make money from something other than its card reader. With launches like its lending arm Square Capital, a food-ordering app, interactive receipts, and enterprise software, Square looks like its scrambling.

Gokul Rajaram, one of Square’s top product engineers, has a mock movie poster near his team that reads “Square Quest IV: The Search For Non-Payments Revenue.”

Carr even writes that the company could be on the brink of one of Silicon Valley’s biggest nightmares: Mediocrity.

“Next to the graveyard of overhyped startups, there is a purgatory where companies like Groupon and Zynga toil — successful but not relevant, almost (or barely) profitable yet inconsequential,” he writes. “These are firms that, despite their promise, were never quite able to escape the clutches of mediocrity. Does Square now face the same fate?”

For a long time, Square was a Silicon Valley darling. It has raised $US340 million at a $US5 billion valuation less than four years after it launched its card reader. Dorsey added to the sky-high expectations with his own grand ambitions. He told Carr that he wants to build something that “resonates with everyone on the planet,” and reportedly often talks about his 5,000-year plan for the company.

Despite its meteoric rise, however, it could end up trundling along as a sustainable business, but not the revolutionary company that Dorsey envisions.

Read the rest of Carr’s excellent piece here.

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