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Columbia to host Square and Twitter Founder Jack Dorsey on September 16

The Center for Career Education (CCE), in conjunction with Columbia Entrepreneurship, the Columbia Organization of Rising Entrepreneurs (CORE), the Columbia Entrepreneurs Organization (CEO) at Columbia Business School, and the Institute for Data Sciences and Engineering are hosting Jack Dorsey, founder of Square and Twitter, on Monday, Sept. 16, at what will be the largest entrepreneurship event in Columbia University history.

More than 1,100 people are expected to attend events surrounding Dorsey’s visit, which will include several receptions and meetings with students interested in technology and start-up careers, and a keynote address at Lerner Hall with more than 900 attendees, including students, alumni and friends.

“We sold 780 tickets in 48 hours, which is pretty crazy,” said Kevin Zhang CC’14, an economics and political science major and president of CORE, the Columbia undergraduate entrepreneurship society. “We are incredibly excited. This is definitely one of the most high profile entrepreneurs to come to Columbia.”

Dorsey is a web developer and businessman widely known as the creator of the social networking site Twitter, and founder and CEO of Square, a mobile payments company. In 2008, he was named by MIT Technology Review as one of the top 35 innovators in the world under 35, and in 2012, The Wall Street Journal gave him the “Innovator of the Year Award” for technology.

His keynote address is expected to focus on entrepreneurship and how Square created a culture that inspires anyone to be an entrepreneur and leader. Mary C. Boyce, Dean of Engineering and Morris A. and Alma Schapiro Professor at Columbia University’s Fu Foundation School of Engineering and Applied Science, will introduce Dorsey, and James J. Valentini, dean of Columbia College and Vice President for Undergraduate Education, will conduct the question and answer session after his keynote address. The keynote will be live-streamed by the Columbia Alumni Association and later posted on the Columbia Entrepreneurship website.

The event will also include a Columbia Founder’s Trade Show, where students and recent alumni who have pursued careers in start-ups will introduce their work. 

Dorsey’s visit comes as a result of the Center for Career Education’s robust employer outreach program. Each year, CCE staff members visit employers throughout the world to develop relationships and encourage companies to visit campus. When Patrick Smith, senior associate director of employer outreach, visited Square in June, recruiters mentioned Dorsey’s interest in coming to campus. Smith pitched the idea to Christopher McGarry of Columbia Entrepreneurship, who encouraged students from CORE and CEO to host and manage the large keynote event.

“Square’s desire to recruit at Columbia, and Mr. Dorsey’s enthusiasm for this event, speaks to the growing ties between Columbia and the entrepreneur community,” Smith said. “We’ve seen an increasing number of start-up firms interested in hiring Columbia students and CCE has been able to capture that interest, most notably at our annual Start-Up Career Fair each spring.”

The tremendous interest in the event represents a growing focus on entrepreneurship at Columbia. CORE, founded in 1999, has this year seen a 74 percent increase in newsletter subscribers and an 184 percent increase in Facebook followers. The group seeks to connect students with entrepreneurial opportunities, provide resources and support for launching businesses and host workshops, programs and events related to entrepreneurship.

The University’s entrepreneurship office, a joint effort between the President’s Office and University Alumni Relations and Development, was initiated on July 1. The office is headed by Richard Witten CC’75, special advisor to the president for entrepreneurship

“There are many wonderful programs and resources for entrepreneurship across campus,” said McGarry, director of entrepreneurship at Columbia University Alumni Relations and Development, who works with Witten’s office. “It’s our mission to help the young entrepreneur navigate those resources, broker collaborations between them and to fill in programming where needed.”

“We’re building out a set of entrepreneurship programs and resources across campus that includes co-working spaces, mentorship, workshops and events,” Witten said. “It is our goal to make it easier for young entrepreneurs like Kevin to launch Columbia-born businesses.”

Zhang said he hopes that Dorsey’s visit, along with other programs planned for the 2013-2014 school year, will inspire more students to become interested in entrepreneurship and start-up careers.

“We are excited that someone’s going to come who’s going to be an inspiring speaker,” he said. “We hope Jack can drive students to check out some of the Columbia community's programs for aspiring entrepreneurs, including CORE’s introductory coding workshops and Townhall pitch and feedback sessions."

Click here to watch Dorsey’s keynote address live.