Square is a nifty startup that uses a free plug-in to turn any iPhone, iPad or Android into a credit card reader. Does your friend owe you $20? Swipe his card on your phone. It’s another in a long line of cool startups popping up everywhere, but now, the company is getting a little more visibility with this glut of billboards in Times Square.
Such aggressive marketing is a big change from the San Francisco-based company’s past strategy. Last week, COO Keith Rabois told me of the difficulties of creating awareness for the young startup. “Not everyone knows about Square, but everyone should,” he said. “Our job is to communicate that, and some of that communication—particularly when we’re talking about communicating to 180 million Americans—cost some amount of money.”
And at the time, it was money Square wasn’t necessarily willing to drop. According to Rabois, Square’s marketing budget in January: a measly $3,000. That’s a far cry from the tens of thousands of dollars a Times Square advertisement typically costs, though a Square spokesperson tells us the billboards were actually a gift to the company and didn’t cost them anything.
Pretty soon, all of these apps that we think are “under-the-radar” will just be commonplace and used everywhere. Kind of scary/awesome to think about. Hack the planet!