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Jack Dorsey's Divided Attention Is A Risk For Square

The payments company Square acknowledged as much in its IPO filing today.

Posted on October 14, 2015, at 5:51 p.m. ET

Kimberly White / Getty Images

The payments company Square is preparing for the most important event in its young life without the undivided attention of its CEO.

Jack Dorsey, Square's 38-year-old co-founder and chief, who is also the newly appointed CEO of Twitter, is "committed" to his jobs at both companies, Square said today in its filing for an initial public offering. He will be "dividing his time, attention, and efforts between the two companies," the filing added.

"This may at times adversely affect his ability to devote time, attention, and effort to Square," according to the filing.

This acknowledgment, while expected, highlights an important risk for Square as it seeks to become a publicly traded company. Going public requires a lot of time and effort, including meetings with bankers and prospective investors. It is very unusual for a company to undertake this process while its CEO is simultaneously at the helm of a different public company.

Dorsey's other company is at a critical stage as well. Dorsey, a Twitter founder who was named permanent CEO earlier this month after serving in that role in an interim capacity since July, is overhauling the social media company, including by laying off more than 300 employees this week.

And another thing: Dorsey also serves on the board of the Walt Disney Company.

Still, it's not as if Dorsey is running both Twitter and Square by himself. Square insiders point out the strength of that company's entire executive team, including CFO Sarah Friar and Project Engineering Lead Gokul Rajaram. Meanwhile, Twitter today named Omid Kordestani, Google's former chief business officer, as its new executive chairman.

Supporters of Dorsey also point to Steve Jobs, who ran both Apple and Pixar for several years. But that feat might be hard for Dorsey to replicate.

In one respect, Dorsey's setup at Square is reminiscent of Jobs, whose Apple salary was at one point just a dollar a year. Dorsey's salary for last year totaled $3,750, the IPO filing said, a small fraction of the compensation for his top officers.

Dorsey would rake in a windfall in the IPO, however. He owns 24.4% of the company, making him the largest individual shareholder among the officers and directors.

Even Square's biggest venture capital backer, Khosla Ventures, has a smaller stake, at 17.3%.

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