Why Block Has a Cap on Employee Headcount and Why It Does Not Support Ethereum

Earlier today, in a comprehensive discussion with CNBC’s Jim Cramer, Block Inc.’s CFO and COO Amrita Ahuja shared in-depth insights into the company’s strategic direction, innovative product offerings, and future growth prospects.

Block, Inc. (formerly known as Square, Inc.) is a technology company co-founded by Jack Dorsey, who is also a co-founder of Twitter. Block focuses on financial services and mobile payments, offering a range of products that include payment processing for businesses, point-of-sale systems, and peer-to-peer money transfer via its Cash App. The company rebranded from Square to Block in December 2021 to reflect its broader commitment to blockchain technology and to accommodate its expanding portfolio, which includes Tidal, a music streaming service, and TBD54566975, a platform focused on developing an open developer platform with the goal of making it easier to access Bitcoin and other blockchain technologies.

The CFO (Chief Financial Officer) of Block, Inc. is Amrita Ahuja. She also holds the position of Chief Operating Officer (COO) at the company. Before joining Block, Ahuja served as the CFO of Blizzard Entertainment, a division of Activision Blizzard, and has held various leadership positions at Fox Networks Group, the Walt Disney Company, and Morgan Stanley.

Jim Cramer is a well-known television personality, former hedge fund manager, and best-selling author. He is most famous for being the host of “Mad Money” on CNBC, a television show where he offers investment advice and stock market analysis.

Ahuja talked about the instrumental role of Cash App in the company’s strategy and its burgeoning impact on younger demographics.

With 56 million monthly active users, Cash App’s engagement metrics are noteworthy, with a significant portion of users interacting with the app on a weekly and daily basis. Ahuja highlighted the app’s appeal to Gen Z and younger users, driven by features like the customizable, free Visa debit card. A pivotal focus for Block is family account feature of the Cash App, which is designed to serve a demographic that’s typically underserved by traditional financial institutions. Ahuja says that as these young users grow into the mainstay of the economy, Block’s potential to expand its user base and increase inflows is substantial.

Ahuja discussed Block’s strategic approach to growth, emphasizing the role of constraints in fostering creativity and prioritization. With a lean team, the company aims to focus on high-impact initiatives that directly benefit customers while simultaneously driving margin expansion. Block’s commitment to achieving the rule of 40 by 2026—a balance of growth and profitability—was underlined as a testament to its strategic discipline.

Addressing the democratization of investment, Ahuja spoke about Cash App’s fractional share offerings, allowing users to invest as little as a dollar in major stocks. This feature is part of Block’s mission to make financial services more accessible and inclusive. On the topic of cryptocurrency, the focus remains squarely on Bitcoin, leveraging the lightning network and other initiatives to enhance its utility as both a currency and a store of value.

On the subject of Bitcoin, Cramer said:

We are big fans of Bitcoin. We are not against it; we think it’s a great store of value.

On 31 January 2022, Block, Inc. (NYSE: SQ) and Afterpay Limited announced the completion of their arrangement, with Block acquiring all issued shares of Afterpay. This move was designed to enhance Block’s ability to offer more accessible financial products and services, broadening consumer access and supporting sellers of various sizes in generating additional revenue. The acquisition aligns with Block’s strategic goals for its Square and Cash App platforms, aiming to introduce ‘buy now, pay later’ (BNPL) options at checkout, integrate Afterpay installment payment management within Cash App, and allow Cash App users to find sellers and BNPL promotions in the app.

The integration of Afterpay into Block’s ecosystem represents a significant stride toward intertwining commerce with financial services. Ahuja touched on the synergies between Afterpay, Square, and Cash App, illustrating Block’s unique position to revolutionize how consumers and merchants interact in the digital economy.

Perhaps the two most interesting parts of this conversation were when Ahuja talked about Square’s cap on employee headcount and when she was asked about potential future support for other cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum.

She mentioned that Block has a cap of approximately 12,000 employees, a decision driven by the leadership’s commitment to fostering creativity and prioritizing key initiatives. This approach, she explained, is about using constraints to drive creativity and strategic focus, ensuring that the company remains agile and responsive to its customers’ needs while also focusing on the bottom line for significant margin expansion opportunities.

This cap was described as a way to maintain a disciplined focus on what matters most, which in turn helps the company in prioritizing work and thinking strategically about the most beneficial projects for its customers. The decision to implement this cap was jointly made across Block’s leadership but was notably influenced by Jack Dorsey’s vision for the company, reflecting a broader organizational ethos of making the most out of limited resources to spur innovation and efficiency.

With regard to future support for other cryptocurrencies, Cramer inquired whether individuals could open an account to buy Ethereum through Block’s platform. Ahuja’s response was clear and focused: Block only deals with Bitcoin. She explained that the company believes Bitcoin has the longest life, best brand, and an open developer ecosystem, which presents a significant opportunity. Despite Cramer’s probing on the potential expansion to include other cryptocurrencies like Ethereum, Ahuja reiterated Block’s commitment to Bitcoin, emphasizing trust and focus as critical components of their strategy. This stance reflects Block’s strategic decision to concentrate on Bitcoin, leveraging its position in the cryptocurrency space while maintaining a straightforward approach to digital asset offerings.

Featured Image via YouTube (Cash App’s YouTube Channel)

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