No one can accuse Jack Dorsey of dreaming small. At just the age of 36, he has revolutionized communication with Twitter, a microblogging site, and small business payment with Square, a mobile payment system that anyone with a smartphone can use. He has been called the next Steve Jobs. Now he has dropped his name into his next field of conquest, politics.
Dorsey, one of the co-founders of Twitter and the founder of Square, recently said in a 60 Minutes interview that he wishes to move to New York City and run for mayor. This is not out of the blue for Dorsey, who has expressed the desire in a previous interview for Vanity Fair, calling it “his dream job.” New York City has already had first model of the CEO mayor in current mayor Michael Bloomberg, who has spoken highly of Dorsey in the past. Can he win and does he have a plan for what his mayorship would look like?
Recent political fights have not been kind for candidates who jump straight from the business world into politics no matter how much of their own net worth they throw around. Meg Whitman, the former CEO of eBay and current CEO Hewlett-Packard, spent $144 million of her own fortune, the most personal money spent by a candidate on a single election in United States’ history, on a failed run for the California Governorship. Linda McMahon, former CEO of the World Wrestling Entertainment Inc., lost twice in 2010 and 2012 running for Senate in Connecticut, spending over $100 million. Even during in his first election in 2001, Bloomberg had to outspend his opponent five to one, pitching in $73 million of his own fortune, to win in a very close result. It will take more then Dorsey’s net worth of $1 billion to assure a win, assuming he intends to run.
Dorsey himself has never run for office. He has no known political platform and has not expressed any policies or visions for what his candidacy for mayor would look like. He describes himself as not being an “expert in face to face communication,” “shy,” and “silent” a set of very atypical characteristics of a person considering running for office. Dorsey does not even fulfill one of the basic requirements for running for mayor, New York City residence, currently living in San Francisco, Calif.
One only has the companies Dorsey has run and the services they provide to even guess what a Dorsey candidacy would entail. Although Twitter and Square serve very different purposes, the philosophy behind their design and function provide an interesting viewpoint. Both are not a product like those designed by Apple. They are instead a service, intended for use by not one user but hundreds of thousands. Both focuses on several values, perhaps the most important being simplicity and user function. Twitter is accessible to anyone with a phone and is so user friendly a child could use it, with the only limitation on the user being 140 characters. Square provides the user with the ability to utilize all major credit cards for a flat percentage fee in business payment, avoiding the expensive machines and fees charged by the credit companies themselves through use of technology. A focus on these two fields, communications and finance, points to a faith in technology to solve problems faced by society.
Looking into profiles of Dorsey further confirms this technocratic viewpoint. A profile written on Dorsey says that he “claims his inventions all aim at the same: a society that works more efficiently and humanely.” Dorsey thinks of things in terms of systems, which makes his comments about what he loves about New York City very interesting:
“What gets me really energized,” he says, sitting on a bench near the fountain in Washington Square, “is thinking about activity within a city. Like, even this intersection at the end of Fifth Avenue, seeing all the taxicabs turn. There’s such a rush of energy constantly coursing through.”
It is possible that Dorsey sees New York City as the next system to be managed by technology. If so he should accelerate any plans he may have. The New York City mayoral elections are less then eight and half months away.