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Jack Dorsey runs two multibillion-dollar companies without using a computer (qz.com)
43 points by NicoJuicy 10 days ago | hide | past | web | favorite | 60 comments





I can already imagine the inspiration videos on instatwitube that will be published quoting this.

"You don't even need a computer to get started. Jack Dorsey, CEO of two multi-billion companies, doesn't even own a computer, yet he is successful."


Your sentiments are close to my heart. The amount of "inspiration" peddled on youtube, linkedin, and other sites is nauseating.

(Posting as a throwaway)

Jack is one of those socially awkward people who you see on the street with their head glued to their smartphone. Is that actually better than being someone who uses a computer at a desk, and then completely disconnects the rest of the time?

Modern smartphones are more powerful computers than most capital-C Computers. This is far more of a semantics thing than anything else.

Great headline though.


A smartphone is a computer.

For "consuming" yes, not for "producing"

That's pretty much the same nowadays, you look & reply to emails, you browse the web, you open company documents, you have the same company chat as on a pc... From a company point of view it's essentially the same thing, that's why you have company phones.

That 30-page company document you opened on your phone, was it written on a phone?

"Producing" is a lot more than writing 15 line emails.


> "Producing" is a lot more than writing 15 line emails.

Depends of your job really, there's a lot of people for which writing emails & replying to people is the main part of their job.

I don't suggest to do 3D modeling or writing a 100 pages document on a phone but there's a lot of middle ground between the two.


I use Google Docs on my phone all the time. It works really well.

I do too. But only to do minor fixes/updates.

I think my longest "original production" on my phone is less than one page long.


Does Jack Dorsey write his own 30 page reports? Sounds like something he’d have his assistant do.

10 years sgo, maybe.

I'm increasingly only using my phone for everything, with a Bluetooth mechanical keyboard for coding or typing. My PC is quickly becoming just a gaming console and will probably soon be put into a car sim style setup then my phone will be my only computer for everything else.

Nothing fancy phone wise, S7 Edge. It can take USB sticks, wireless keyboard and mouse, and almost everything I do is just in Firefox or Dropbox.


I would be interested to hear more about your coding setup on mobile!

What language(s), do you use an online IDE, etc?


I'm not a full-time programmer (recently retired of sorts), and these days it's mostly personal hobby hardware projects, tinkering with various online projects, and just a bit of everything. I don't think I could do this if I was still coding all day every day like I used to, but for my purposes, it works fine.

I do Arduino projects using an OTG cable to plug the Arduino directly to my phone, then Arduino Droid for the code.

RPi projects are done using Termux to SSH into the RPis and write code in VIM. I also do some general daily tasks this way, SSHing into a dedicated RPi where I run various services for myself.

I use the GitHub editor to edit/write code there, but I'm not a heavy GitHub user in general other than via commanding in the RPis.

iA Writer to write formatted documents in Markdown, synced to Dropbox for sharing (and various online services can sync Dropbox folders to blog posts, or other things).

Dropbox editor for general text files (my personal notes, brainstorming, etc).

The rest is just using Firefox, as most of our interaction with the world these days is just through the browser, and I find Firefox Mobile to be incredible thanks to the tab syncing and tab forwarding (wife can send me a tab, etc).

All this is done with a cheap "RK61" Bluetooth 60% mechanical keyboard, which is honestly the thing that made this all possible (including this post).


I set up my Galaxy Tab 2.0 7" years ago -- and it could do all that, way back then. (To save battery, I used a mini USB keyboard though) Rooted. Added debian with XFCE.

It had/has everything a travelling hacker needed/needs.

That said, my MBA is lighter, faster, has longer battery life, and is a lot easier to work with in general. It just can't take a SIM, which my version of Galaxy Tab could.


Surely you can't be reading all that code on such a small screen? I assume you must be hooking it up to an HDMI monitor as well?

(But if so, I'm with you. I was using a Samsung DeX with my S8 recently while my laptop was broken, and it's incredible how much it can do. I had my Focusrite 2i2 USB audio connecting my S8 to my studio monitors, and even that worked.)


Yes sorry I dock to a desktop monitor via HDMI for coding at a desk, but honestly I'd say more than half the time I'm fine just using the phone on its kickstand case or mounted to the top of the keyboard with a bracket I made.

My eyes thankfully haven't degraded as fast as my hearing so far.

Being a wireless 60% keyboard it's quite small, so I can use this setup anywhere I want just on my lap. It's very convenient.


What development environment do you use?

Edit - I realized you are probably using an online one.


Yup web editors and SSH with an Android app for server stuff or to do stuff in VIM.

I've got DeX too, and I agree, it's very nice. Linux on Galaxy will probably take this even further.

I'm also sure that everyone that answers to him use computers...

The most interesting thing about being in China is seeing how 99% of merchants power their business with a Wechat/Alipay QR code printed on a piece of paper. Not sure how Square missed that.

QR codes have been available for a while. Square helped do payments through credit cards. At that time payment via QR codes was cumbersome, and not adopted. But I think it depends more on the consumers and local economy. US was anyway using credit cards a lot. Asia preferred cash, for smaller transactions.

You can pay credit cards with QA codes. You just don't need the POS device.

I think US as a whole is behind using QR codes for payments in general. One big reason is banks. The credit card culture of US made it almost impossible for new technologies to come and break the ground. Till this day there are banks who issue credit cards without chip and people prefer to use it.

I bet he has a couple of assistants who use a computer for him.

Probably, but that's par for the course. Nothing wrong with that per se given his job responsibilities...

Absolutely nothing wrong, I agree, I'm just saying that there's still a computer somewhere along the way.

Seriously, who cares?

First, the idiosyncrasies of the rich and powerful are way less important than the amount of space given to them in the press, even for this extremely short article. Very few of these "Jack doesn't use a computer" and "Tim Cook wakes up at 4 o'clock" are actually useful, aside from the voyeur aspect. For all we know Jack has some pretty brutal RSI and Siri is the only way that he can actually type, or whatever.

It's pointless, is what I'm saying.

And with more snark: it's not like he's running all those companies well. Twitter is a garbage fire that's probably propped up by bots that Twitter is ignoring for their ad revenue. Everyone I know resents what Twitter does to their mental health and wants to spend less time on it and talking about it, myself certainly included.


Well said. Celebrity worshipping is a staple anywhere you go. It's either the kardashians (who are different from what they show on TV) or the dorseys.

And about twitter bring dumpster fire, somebody a few days back commented in the context if uptime reliability- if a payment gateway goes down, it hurts global economy, if a non-descript site goes down, nobody cares and if twitter goes down, people heave a sigh of relief. Or something along those lines.


Downvoted for writing a generally ill-considered response.

Regarding whether or not Jack Dorsey is running these companies well: Square is up a nice 5x over the last five years. That's a $32b market cap now. It's a big company. Their credit card readers are _everywhere_.

Twitter is more controversial, sure, but it's certainly been improved over the last two years. I actually quite like using it.


Edit: Two downvotes but no comments? Pretty lame downvoters today...

With regard to Twitter, what is being done to staunch the bleeding of users? I stopped using it in favor of Mastodon, which is starting to eat into my Reddit usage as of late. The ability to chat with interesting people who can hold a high caliber conversation reminds me of certain subreddits & IRC to a degree.


> today

CEOing is about making business decisions, not inventing and creating stuff, so why would you need a computer.

Because one day, someone will send you an excel sheet.

And someone will summarize it for you.

Computers are pretty useful for communicating.

What form of comms is better on a computer than it is on a smartphone? I can't think of anything.

For me (and many others) anything that involves writing more than a few words of text. YMMV.

In that regard I actually prefer bosses who write on a phone. It stops them sending ridiculously long emails.

As mentioned in the article, screenshots

Have you thought of writing? Or reading? Or watching large enough images?

Because spreadsheets.

Most work can now be done on an iPad Pro without much compromise (highlighting stuff is still annoying, but oh well). With a little creativity, even decent amount of coding can be done.

Note that with the iPad, Apple is doing everything they can to hamstring the ability to code or replace the Mac.

Now expand your field of vision to Surface and Pixel Slate, and now you have two fully featured computing devices that act like a tablet, but readily convert to full on productivity machines complete with nice keyboards and pointing devices. Both support external monitors (why on earth can I not use airplay like this?!).

This hasn’t caught on yet, but for the average office user, and event many developers, these tablets with external keyboards provide more than enough computing power to get all of their work done.

For now I’m staying with my iPad, but Google has really made that choice a lot more difficult with the Pixel Slate. Had I been less bought into the Apple ecosystem, I’d be ordering it immediately.

EDIT: Forgot to mention eGPUs - if I could run a Thunderbolt3 eGPU on either Surface or Pixel Slate, probably would have switched by now.


I agree. I do tons of work on an iPad Pro. Laptops are o lot better for writing code but for most other work and fun stuff I like an iPad much better.

especially since it can run linux apps. But, their ui was pretty laggy in the recent demos. You can't beat iOS in UI smoothness.

Edit: grammar


Yeah, iOS is definitely very polished. Haven’t seen much lag though on ChromeOS.

I don't know about chromeos in general, I was specifically talking about the newly announced pixel slate. The hardware seems promising, not sure about the software.

Steven Jobs ran a multibillion-dollar company wearing only black turtlenecks.

To be fair, he did also wear jeans. Nobody will take you seriously hanging out in only turtle necks!

I conduct so much business via my phone email, and have an assistant doing most computer tasks. Wonder what would need to change to get me off a computer fulltime

This makes sense given his origin story had a bunch to do with his burning curiosity in dispatch systems coordinating across every level and permutation of org charts.

I doubt he expected ever bike cops talking to a street sweeper to both be carrying a laptop to make the dispatching work. So, between square and twitter, it seems less hipster and more like using his products to their apex intended purpose and the among the best way to find holes.

I can picture him thinking about their internal systems: "if a system like this can work for hurricanes and 911, it can probably handle kanye ranting or quitting twitter without me being chained to a laptop."


is this English?

People have run companies without computers for centuries!

People have run billion dollar tech startups without computers for centuries? Tell me more, please.

Given that he's the CEO of two reasonably large companies, I'm assuming that most of his non-private thinking time is spent in meetings, giving some form of presentation, and in email, there's no inherent need for a desktop computer which I believe is the intent of the article if you could call it that.

I'm not sure why 'start-up' is significant, or even accurate.

Standard Oil hit a market cap of over $1 trillion without computers. Maybe it was a coal-industry-disruptor start-up...?


Things moved a lot more slowly back then. News cycles were in terms of days or weeks.

I bet he uses multiple, including his mobile.



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