Founded: 2010 Dorsey's mobile-payments company, co-founded with Jim McKelvey, has been transformational for small merchants, enabling them to accept credit cards. Some 3 million businesses use the platform to process about $10 billion in annual payments. Dorsey's out-of-the-box thinking also applies to his management style: At the company's San Francisco headquarters, the 36-year-old CEO can often be found working on his iPad at one of the company's "open collaboration" tables. Dorsey says this allows him to be more accessible to his company's 450-plus employees. (He also leads a weekly neighborhood cleanup project with staff.) But Dorsey's unconventional leadership approach doesn't mean he isn't seeking mainstream success. Last year he struck a deal last year to process all credit and debit transactions at more than 7,000 U.S. Starbucks locations.
“Jack Dorsey is a talented entrepreneur who has helped create groundbreaking new businesses in the social media and commerce spaces,” said Robert A. Iger, Disney’s chairman and chief executive officer, in a statement today. Iger explained that Dorsey’s forward-thinking perspective will prove “extremely valuable” given the company’s priorities, which include utilizing the latest technologies and platforms to expand the company’s reach. Dorsey, for his part, called Disney a “timeless company” he was honored to join.
The addition of Dorsey to Disney’s board is an interesting one. His first successful brainchild, Twitter, is trading at nearly $65 a share, up 43% since its successful IPO in November. That company arguably altered the way 230 million-plus active monthly users communicate and consume information via pithy, real-time updates. Meanwhile, Dorsey’s other venture, the credit card-processing Square, continues to rapidly grow, with a reported projection of nearly $1 billion in revenues next year. It is reportedly eying an IPO in 2014, as well.
“He certainly has what it takes to innovate,” says James MacQuivey, vice president and analyst for Forrester Research He explains Disney’s appointment makes sense given Dorsey’s role in two high-profile businesses that are 100-percent digital.
Which could be exactly what Disney needs. Although the company has long since diversified from its humble origins as a short film production company in 1923 and transformed into a $128 billion media and entertainment company with five segments — Media Networks, Parks and Resorts, Studio Entertainment, Consumer Products and Interactive — folks like Iger obviously believe having the inventiveness of tech visionaries like Dorsey should strengthen the company and its bottom line further.
Dorsey is replacing former Cisco (CSCO) exec Judith Estrin, who is leaving because she reached the 15-year term limit for the Disney board. His appointment also aligns Dorsey with Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, who was named to the Disney board in December, 2009.
Still, MacQuivey understandably remains cautious on whether Dorsey will effect much change. Says MacQuivey: “It all depends on whether Disney will be open their minds up to his influence.”
After the announcement came out earlier today, Dorsey tweeted a picture of an early Mickey Mouse sketch and a quote from Walt Disney: “I only hope we don’t lose sight of one thing—that it was all started by a mouse.”