Jim McKelvey, Square Co-founder, in Asia in mid September

Jim McKelvey, the co-founder of Square, a mobile payments company, will be in Asia in mid Sepember 2014. Contact us if you wish to have him as a speaker.


Jim McKelvey is an American computer science engineer and businessperson widely known as the co-founder of Square, a mobile payments company. He went from publishing a bestseller computer programming book at the age of 19 to working at IBM, to create a digital publishing company, to founding a glass factoryin St. Louis and finally to the invention of the foundational technology behind the Square Credit Card Reader in 2009.

In 1984, as a freshman Economics major at WUSTL, he wrote and published a replacement for the computer programming textbook used in one of his classes. The success of the book led McKelvey to sign a contract with a publisher for a second book at the age of 19. This book became a bestseller. McKelvey spent his junior year at the London School of Economics in England and graduated from WUSTL with dual degrees in Economics and Computer Science.

After graduation, McKelvey worked as a Visiting Scientist at IBM’s Los Angeles Scientific Center. While still at IBM, McKelvey also worked as a glassblowing instructor and started a CD cabinet manufacturing company. After his mother’s sudden death a week before Christmas in 1989, he had a personal crisis and decided to focus his efforts on one company. McKelvey and a college friend founded Mira Corporation, a digital publishing company, shortly thereafter.

McKelvey began blowing glass as a teenager and then studied briefly with master Venetian glass artist Lino Talgiapietra. In 2000 after giving a demonstration at his Alma Mater, he met Doug Auer and together they founded Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis. In 2006, McKelvey wrote and published an instructional textbook for glassblowing,later translated into Norwegian.That same year, Third Degree hosted the world’s largest conference for art glass GAS 2006 and in preparation for this conference McKelvey designed and produced a line of all-glass faucets. Though not originally intended for sale, the demand for the faucets eventually led McKelvey to form another company to sell them.

McKelvey and Dorsey, a former Mira’s summer intern, founded Square in 2009. Late 2008, they were working on one of Dorsey’s ideas when Jim suggested the basic idea for Square. Jim McKelvey designed the hardware used by Square in 2009. He sits on the board of Square and served as its Chairman until 2010. In 2011, McKelvey’s iconic card reader design was inducted into the Museum of Modern Art.

Jim McKelvey is also a frequent public speaker, lecturing on a range of topics from art to entrepreneurship.

Contact us at Speakers Connect to engage Jim McKelvey for your next conference or event.