Jim McKelvey

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Jim McKelvey
Jim Studio Headshow.jpeg
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
CitizenshipUnited States
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
OccupationDirector of Square, Inc.

Jim McKelvey is an American entrepreneur, businessperson and philanthropist. McKelvey was appointed as an Independent Director of the St. Louis Federal Reserve in January 2017.[1]

Early life[edit]

James Morgan McKelvey Jr. was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and is a alumnus of Ladue Horton Watkins High School.[2] He wrote and published a Handbook on UCSD Pascal and Apple Pascal in 1986.[3] After graduation from Washington University in St. Louis, McKelvey worked as a contractor for IBM in Los Angeles and in St. Louis.[4] At the same time, he had jobs as a glassblowing instructor and founded Disconcepts, a CD cabinet manufacturing company.[4]


Third Degree Glass Factory[edit]

In 2000, after giving a glassblowing demonstration at WUSTL, McKelvey met Doug Auer. In 2002 they founded Third Degree Glass Factory in St. Louis, a glass art education center and studio.[5][6]

Square, Inc.[edit]

In 2009, McKelvey co-founded Square with Jack Dorsey.[7][8][9] Professor Robert Morley designed the hardware used by Square in 2009, while McKelvey and Jack Dorsey later created a separate entity leaving Morley out of this entity's ownership. McKelvey then served as Square's chairman until 2010.[10] Today, McKelvey sits on the Board of Directors at Square.

Cultivation Capital[edit]

In 2012, McKelvey teamed with other St. Louis-based serial entrepreneurs to help found Cultivation Capital. The venture capital firm manages multiple early-stage venture capital funds in software, life sciences, and agtech.[11] Cultivation Capital was noted by Crunchbase as an active venture capital investor. [12]

The Federal Reserve[edit]

In 2017, McKelvey was appointed as an Independent Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.[13]

Non-profit Work[edit]


In September 2013, McKelvey co-founded LaunchCode, a non-profit organization that aims to grow new talent and create pathways to on-the-job training and employment.[14] LaunchCode partners with companies to set up paid apprenticeships in technology for talented people who lack the traditional credentials to land a quality, high-paying job.[15] In 2014, LaunchCode was named "The Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis" by the St. Louis Riverfront Times.[16] In February 2019, LaunchCode received a $300,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to support education programming.[17]


In 2016, McKelvey donated $15M to the Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science to build a new computer science and engineering building named after his father.[18] In 2019, Washington University's engineering school was renamed the McKelvey School of Engineering.[19][20]


  • McKelvey, J. (2020). The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. Penguin Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-593-08674-2.[21][22]


  1. ^ "St. Louis Fed Announces Changes to Board of Directors". stlouisfed.org. December 12, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  2. ^ Dielman, Susan (June 24, 2012). ""Distinguished Ladue Alumni Chosen for 2012 Awards Presentation"". Patch.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  3. ^ McKelvey, Jim (1986). The Debugger's Handbook=UCSD and Apple Pascal. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 978-0-534-06432-7.
  4. ^ a b Kerth, Susan (May 30, 2004). "Entrepreneur-artist Jim McKelvey bankrolls his glass studio with his business savvy". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved July 12, 2019.
  5. ^ Mannino, Fran. "Third Degree Glass Factory Celebrates 9 Years". Times Newspapers. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  6. ^ Cudnik, Christian. "Glass blowing goes public at Third Degree". news.stlpublicradio.org. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Woytus, Amanda (October 18, 2018). "Square's Jack Dorsey and Jim McKelvey announce new credit card technology, plan to hire for 300 jobs in St. Louis". www.stlmag.com. Retrieved April 12, 2019.
  8. ^ Calhoun, Lisa. ""Why Square's Co-Founder Says Be Wary of Advice From Successful People"". inc.com. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  9. ^ Meyerowitz, Robert. "Jim McKelvey Has Altered the Way Money Changes Hands. Now What?". www.stlmag.com. stlmag.com.
  10. ^ Pontin, Jason. "The New Money". Technology Review. MIT.
  11. ^ Cultivation Capital plants $100 million St. Louis Business Journal, June 28, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  12. ^ Glasner, Joanna. "These Younger Firms are Climbing the Ranks of Active U.S. Investors". News. Crunchbase News. Retrieved December 9, 2019.
  13. ^ Bhardwaj, Prachi. "How these 23 entrepreneurs became the lesser known co-founders of the biggest tech companies in the world". Business Insider. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  14. ^ Lloyd, Tim. "Square founder hopes to turn St. Louis into the Silicon Prairie". Marketplace. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  15. ^ "About - So What is LaunchCode?". LaunchCode. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  16. ^ "Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis St. Louis 2014 - LaunchCode". Riverfront Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  17. ^ Collins, Leslie (February 21, 2019). "Kauffman Foundation doubles down on LaunchCode's KC program". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 25, 2019.
  18. ^ Ebsworth-Goold, Erika (October 28, 2016). ""New engineering building to be named for school's former dean"". The Source. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  19. ^ "WashU announces donation from Square co-founder to grow engineering school". TechCrunch. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  20. ^ Barker, Jacob. "Wash U renaming engineering school after Square co-founder Jim McKelvey". stltoday.com. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  21. ^ Fenske, Sarah (March 27, 2020). "Square's Jim McKelvey Explains How To Build A Business, 'One Crazy Idea At A Time'". St. Louis Public Radio. Retrieved May 2, 2020.
  22. ^ Woytus, Amanda (March 9, 2020). "Square co-founder Jim McKelvey details how he changed the payment game and beat Amazon in a new book". St. Louis Magazine. Retrieved May 2, 2020.

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