Richard Branson invests in Square

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British business magnate Richard Branson has invested in Square, the mobile payments start-up run by Twitter co-founder Jack Dorsey.

Square declined to disclose exactly how much was invested by Branson, known for the Virgin Group of international companies that have taken him from a record-store owner to a billionaire, but did say that it was in the multimillion-dollar range.


Branson announced his investment in Square on Twitter on Tuesday, along with a blog post on Virgin’s website in which he said: “I’m very passionate about helping people start and grow successful businesses, and Square is an incredible technology that inspires and empowers everyone to be an entrepreneur.”

Square, founded last year, is known for its Square card reader, a small, white plastic cube that plugs into the headphone jack of smart phones and tablets and works with an app to handle credit and debit card payments.

The young firm has shipped more than 800,000 card readers to businesses and says it is on pace to process more than $2 billion in payments annually.

The San Francisco-based company, in which Visa is also an investor, is going up against heavyweights such as Google, MasterCard, PayPal and an alliance of AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon in the quickly growing “mobile wallet” space that allows users to pay for things with smart-phone apps rather than credit cards.

Square’s bid in that space is the Square Card Case app, which was recently updated for Apple’s iOS 5 operating system to make use of geofencing and location-based technologies.

Branson’s investment follows a $100-million investment by the venture firm Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, which pushed Square past a $1-billion valuation.


That same month, Square named former U.S. Treasury Secretary Lawrence Summers and venture capitalist Vinod Khosla, who is also one of the founders of Sun Microsystems, to its board of directors.


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-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles