Bitcoin price – Square doubles down on Australia, but not bitcoin, as growth surges
Since 2019 Square has gone from having the majority of Australian staff employed in Melbourne, with a handful in Sydney, to being spread out across the country thanks to a flexible working policy.
It now employs people in regions including Torquay, Byron Bay, the Gold Coast hinterland, Launceston and even a rural Tasmanian town called Pontville, with a population of only 623 people.
Since the pandemic it has also had more Australians applying for roles from overseas, hoping to return home. The company recently hired someone returning from London.
While Australian gross profit more than doubled in the three months ended March 31 from the year-earlier period, gross profit for the whole of Square’s international markets rose 80 per cent.
In total, Square’s revenue totalled $US5.06 billion ($6.5 billion), up 266 per cent for the quarter, buoyed substantially by the surge in the value of bitcoin.
Bitcoin transactions through Square’s Cash App (which lets people transfer money, or bitcoin, to each other) soared and the company also has 5 per cent of its cash invested in bitcoin. While Square’s Cash App is not yet in Australia, a large portion of its engineering team is based here.
Excluding bitcoin revenue, total revenue from the underlying business was $US1.55 billion, up 44 per cent in a year.
Ms Ahuja said Square did not intend to invest more in crytocurrency at this point, but by having a small percentage of its cash held in the alternate asset class, it was allowing the company to learn more about the field first-hand.
“We see a longer term vision that’s potentially very disruptive and very transformative to the landscape of commerce in a world in which crypto could breakdown barrier and create a global currency,” she said.
“But we also know it’ll change and go through peaks and valleys along that path, so we’re going to take small steps and iterate on the areas we think are working.”
Ms Ahuja did not want to comment on the movement of cryptocurrencies following comments by by Elon Musk that Tesla would no longer accept bitcoin payments because of energy consumption, but she said this had been a well-understood problem for a long time.
“We want to be part of the solution to create a greener supply chain for bitcoin. In December we created a $US10 million investment in bitcoin clean energy and we’re embarking to be net zero [emissions] in our operations by 2030.”
“We do think there’s potential over a longer five- to 10-year horizon for it to be more than a store of value and potentially become a currency.“
In the last year Square has added more than $US100 to its share price, going from $US78.20 to more than $197, having reached as high as $US283 earlier this year.
Before joining Square in 2019, Ms Ahuja had worked for Disney and Fox and been CFO of Blizzard Entertainment.
Her background in the entertainment industry undoubtedly would have helped inform the company’s surprise recent purchase of Jay-Z’s music streaming platform Tidal for $US297 million.
Ms Ahuja said Square wanted to help artists grow their revenue base and believed it was well placed to do this.
While the focus of this third division of Square will be on musicians for now, she indicated that in the future it could extend into other artist categories.
“Artists have been underserved with tools, with software, and with mechanisms to interact with fans and grow their revenue base,” she said.
“We’ll start small and iterate. Jack has a 100-day plan to build out software and tools for artists.
“If Square can do what it’s done for sellers and individuals for artists, empowering these creators with their own tools to provide closer connections to fans, that’s the opportunity we’re looking to serve.”