Jim McKelvey

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Jim McKelvey
Jim Studio Headshow.jpeg
Alma materWashington University in St. Louis
OccupationDirector of Block, Inc.

James Morgan McKelvey Jr. is an American billionaire businessman, who is the co-founder of Block, Inc. McKelvey was appointed as an independent director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis in January 2017.[1] As of November 2021, his net worth was estimated at US$4 billion.[2]

Early life[edit]

James Morgan McKelvey Jr. was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and is an alumnus of Ladue Horton Watkins High School.[3] He wrote and published a Handbook on UCSD Pascal and Apple Pascal in 1986.[4] After graduation from Washington University in St. Louis, McKelvey worked as a contractor for IBM in Los Angeles and in St. Louis.[5] At the same time, he had jobs as a glassblowing instructor and founded Disconcepts, a CD cabinet manufacturing company.[5]


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 studio and gallery which also provides space for private events.[6][7] He talks about this extensively in the Shaping Business Minds Through Art podcast.[8]

Block, Inc. (formerly known as Square, Inc.)[edit]

In 2009, McKelvey co-founded Square with Jack Dorsey.[9][10][11] 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.[12] As of September 2022, McKelvey sits on the Board of Directors at Block, Inc.[13]

Cultivation Capital[edit]

In 2012, McKelvey teamed with other St. Louis-based businesspeople to help found Cultivation Capital, a venture capital firm that manages early-stage venture capital funds in software, life sciences, and agtech.[14]


In June 2016, McKelvey founded Invisibly, a company seeking to allow consumers to profit from their online data.[15][16]

The Federal Reserve[edit]

In 2017, McKelvey was appointed as an Independent Director of the Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis.[17]

NoW Innovation District[edit]

Since 2019, McKelvey and business partner John Berglund, as StarLake Holdings have been building the NoW Innovation District in downtown St. Louis.

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.[18] 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.[19] In 2014, LaunchCode was named "The Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis" by the St. Louis Riverfront Times.[20] In February 2019, LaunchCode received a $300,000 grant from the Ewing Marion Kauffman Foundation to support education programming.[21]


In 2016, McKelvey donated $15 million to the Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science to build a new computer science and engineering building named after his father.[22] In 2019, Washington University's engineering school was renamed the McKelvey School of Engineering.[23][24]


  • McKelvey, Jim (2020). The Innovation Stack: Building an Unbeatable Business One Crazy Idea at a Time. Penguin Publishing Group. ISBN 978-0-593-08674-2.[25][26]
  • McKelvey, James (2006). The Art Of Fire: Beginning Glassblowing. Third Degree Glass Factory. ISBN 0978683102.[27]


  1. ^ "St. Louis Fed Announces Changes to Board of Directors". stlouisfed.org. December 12, 2016. Retrieved August 15, 2017.
  2. ^ "Forbes profile: Jim McKelvey". Forbes. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  3. ^ Dielman, Susan (June 24, 2012). ""Distinguished Ladue Alumni Chosen for 2012 Awards Presentation"". Patch.com. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  4. ^ McKelvey, Jim (1986). The Debugger's Handbook=UCSD and Apple Pascal. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 978-0-534-06432-7.
  5. ^ 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.
  6. ^ Mannino, Fran. "Third Degree Glass Factory Celebrates 9 Years". Times Newspapers. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  7. ^ Cudnik, Christian (December 20, 2008). "Glass blowing goes public at Third Degree". news.stlpublicradio.org. Retrieved March 28, 2019.
  8. ^ #15 Jim McKelvey. Audacity in Entrepreneurship and Art. - Shaping Business Minds Through Art - The Artian Podcast, retrieved February 26, 2021
  9. ^ 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.
  10. ^ Calhoun, Lisa (June 8, 2016). ""Why Square's Co-Founder Says Be Wary of Advice From Successful People"". inc.com. Retrieved November 2, 2016.
  11. ^ Meyerowitz, Robert (March 7, 2011). "Jim McKelvey Has Altered the Way Money Changes Hands. Now What?". www.stlmag.com. stlmag.com.
  12. ^ Pontin, Jason. "The New Money". Technology Review. MIT.
  13. ^ "Board of Directors". Block Inc. Retrieved March 9, 2022.
  14. ^ Cultivation Capital plants $100 million St. Louis Business Journal, June 28, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  15. ^ https://www.linkedin.com/in/mckelveyjim[self-published source]
  16. ^ "Client Partner (Sales)". boards.greenhouse.io. Archived from the original on November 4, 2021. Retrieved November 4, 2021.
  17. ^ 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.
  18. ^ Lloyd, Tim (October 21, 2013). "Square founder hopes to turn St. Louis into the Silicon Prairie". Marketplace. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  19. ^ "About - So What is LaunchCode?". LaunchCode. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  20. ^ "Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis St. Louis 2014 - LaunchCode". Riverfront Times. Retrieved October 6, 2014.
  21. ^ Collins, Leslie (February 21, 2019). "Kauffman Foundation doubles down on LaunchCode's KC program". www.bizjournals.com. Retrieved September 25, 2019.{{cite web}}: CS1 maint: url-status (link)
  22. ^ Ebsworth-Goold, Erika (October 28, 2016). ""New engineering building to be named for school's former dean"". The Source. Retrieved October 31, 2016.
  23. ^ "WashU announces donation from Square co-founder to grow engineering school". TechCrunch. January 31, 2019. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  24. ^ Barker, Jacob. "Wash U renaming engineering school after Square co-founder Jim McKelvey". stltoday.com. Retrieved March 14, 2019.
  25. ^ 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.
  26. ^ 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.
  27. ^ "Book Review - The Art of Fire - Beginning Glassblowing". Glassblowing.info. June 16, 2009. Retrieved July 16, 2021.

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