Payments startup Square, founded by St. Louis natives Jim McKelvey and Jack Dorsey, reportedly has filed confidential documents for an initial public offering, which could be cause for both celebration and lamentation in St. Louis.
The company was born when McKelvey lost a $1,000 sale at his glassblowing studio because he didn’t take credit cards. That experience gave rise to a company that today is valued at $6 billion.
McKelvey, meanwhile, has become a champion for St. Louis tech causes, including venture capital firm Cultivation Capital, fin-tech accelerator SixThirty, and programming apprenticeship LaunchCode.
At the same time, though, the IPO would be a bitter reminder of a limitation of the area’s tech ecosystem. McKelvey and Dorsey, the co-founder of Twitter, had designs on establishing the company in their hometown. However, they couldn’t find enough programmers in the area with the skills the company needed, and Square relocated to San Francisco, where it now employs more than 1,000 people.