[ The following post reflects only my beliefs. ]
As of late, there has been much discussion surrounding the assumed “conflict of interest” Jack Dorsey must have caused with Square’s partnership with Starbucks in relation to Jack’s investment in Sightglass Coffee. It is truly amazing to see what types of theories people can come up with, but one must understand why Jack first invested in Sightglass Coffee to truly wrap their heads around this “coffee love triangle.”
Jack Dorsey invested in Sightglass Coffee for the purpose to better understand the “intersection” by which a barista (merchant) and a coffee drinker (consumer) interact whenever a transaction is made. That one moment, defines what millions of merchants and consumers experience each and every single day. This experience is the result of a behavior that can not simply be erased from commerce, but is ripe for innovation. At this year’s TechCrunch Disrupt in San Francisco, Jack further emphasized the importance of this interaction by saying, “Life happens at intersections; it’s important to recognize what’s happening in that intersection and determine what to do in it.”
Jack is known to enjoy walking through the city. I can only imagine all of the intersections by which people interact, that he observes and takes notice of, and ultimately learns from, daily. These intersections serve as an ongoing foundational education to how people exchange money, in real-time.
I am thankful to have a degree in Architecture with an emphasis on Urban Design as this background allows me as a technologist, to think about things from a different perspective, especially “intersections.” It allows me to constantly question human behavior as it relates to technology and how those intersections between two people, technologies or people and technologies is improved. Much like architecture whereas spaces are created, every last detail effects how one interacts, behaves and ultimately experiences said intersection. By understanding how people interact with and behave traditionally, one can better understand how to make that experience better, easier, and more fluid.
Jack utilizes Sightglass Coffee as a human observation lab. It allows for him to observe, to test, to ask questions, and to learn better how to innovate an experience/intersection that while has traditional behaviors tied to it, historically is burdensome to so many businesses and consumers.
So one might ask, if the Starbucks, Sightglass Coffee and Square “love triangle” is a “conflict of interest?” If it were, then every coffee shop utilizing Square also causes this question to be asked. Jack’s relationship with Sightglass is one that is both, strategic and everlasting. As long as Jack has an interest in this “intersection” he will have a need for Sightglass Coffee and the teachings it offers.
While Square continues to roll out innovation after innovation around this critical human intersection of exchanging money, many others are also innovating in this space. Dwolla, Chirpify and Refurrl (ARK Challenge Startup) each have their own take on how the intersection between merchant and consumer happens and can be improved.
We all have intersections that we can and must observe and learn from. What are the intersections that you pay attention to? How are you innovating that intersection? From Doctors and Patients, Architects and the People that they design for, to the Teacher and the Student, “intersections” are happening everywhere. Take a moment and observe. You’ll learn something.
[ Image Credit: Dave Getzschman ]