Payments Infrastructure


Power Score: 84.75 Momentum Score: 71.76 (2) HQ: San Francisco, CA CEO: Jack Dorsey


Valuation: $111 billion (+116% YoY)

Amt. Raised: $778.8 million


Lobbying Spend: $900,000

Industry Orgs: ETA


Headcount: 7,726 (+44% YoY)

Engineering Headcount: 2,134 (+47% YoY)

Big Tech Experience: 11%

Open Roles: 549


R&D Spending: n/a

Patents Applied For: 844

Patents Owned: 2,440

Acquisitions: Afterpay (August 2021); Crew (July 2021); Tidal (April 2021)


Exec Team Exits: No

Diversity Data?:Yes

ESG/CSR Data?:Yes

On Power

There clearly aren't many round holes in fintech, because there are very few places where Square doesn't fit in. With its aggressive acquisition strategy and a resulting set of products that now ranges from peer-to-peer payments and investing to business lending, crypto and a soon-to-arrive "buy now, pay later" service, Square has found itself at the forefront of the conversation in a number of quickly-growing areas of fintech. The creation of its new TBD crypto business and acquisition of Afterpay suggests a willingness to be aggressive on multiple fronts at once. And the company's 56% year-over-year increase in gross payment volume through the first half of 2021 is an indication that the strategy is working.

Despite Square's growing number of businesses, the core payments infrastructure is still the company's backbone and the launchpad for the innovation it continues to layer on top. On the seller side, gross payment volume grew to $38.8 billion in the second quarter of 2021, up nearly 90% from the admittedly pandemic-impacted figure from a year ago, but also up nearly 50% from the same quarter two years ago. On the P2P side, the company says Cash App payment volume increased fourfold over the last two years, and its 70 million users put it neck-and-neck with Venmo.

Where Square stands out, then, is in its ability to connect each of its businesses. Most recently, the company has shown that by pulling its Cash App and seller ecosystems closer together, but the company has a long history of finding ways to complement its services with its other offerings. From giving Square sellers access to Square Capital (and reliable PPP loans during the pandemic) to buying Weebly in 2018 and offering merchants more intuitive ways to link their own ecommerce experiences with data, the company has shown that finding the connecting thread is a surefire way to scale quickly.

On Disruption

Following the success of super apps in China and India, U.S. fintechs have been looking at ways to facilitate an even greater share of everyone's financial lives, and Square is one of the few companies with the tools to make a play in the market. PayPal has perhaps been loudest about its ambitions in the space, but Square's actions — notably its bank charter approval, pending Afterpay acquisition and DriveWealth partnership to facilitate retail investing for the Cash App — give the company an avenue to create a genuine super app for the U.S.

Tea Leaves

Square is now in 94 hedge fund portfolios, according to data from Insider Monkey, and analysts continue to raise estimates on how much the company can grow from here, especially as the company inks deals like the recent TikTok partnership for the creator economy. Despite the institutional confidence, CEO Jack Dorsey does not have a reputation of being risk averse; in fact, in Square's S-1, the company listed him as a potential risk to growth because of the nature of his divided attention while serving as CEO of Twitter. To some, Dorsey's big crypto push at Square — in the form of big investments and a hardware wallet product foray — could be seen as a risk to the company's broader development. Dorsey has made no secret that bitcoin is his animating interest right now.

They Said It

"So everything that we build on the seller side, we can utilize internally on the Cash App side and vice versa. And that's allowed us to move much faster with both ecosystems because fundamentally, we have shared infrastructure … As you look at our ecosystem, as you look at how Cash Card is used, as you look at Boost, you can imagine many other connections around that."—CEO Jack Dorsey in a May 2021 earnings call

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Payments Infrastructure