Jim McKelvey

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Jim McKelvey
Jim Studio Headshow.jpeg
Born (1965-10-19) October 19, 1965 (age 52)
St. Louis, Missouri, United States
Residence San Francisco, California, U.S.
Alma mater Washington University in St. Louis
Occupation Director of Square, Inc., Mira, Inc., LockerDome, Calpian, Inc., Entrepreneur

Jim McKelvey (born October 19, 1965) is an American entrepreneur, businessperson and philanthropist who is involved in more than a dozen companies, most notably as the co-founder of Square. Jim was appointed as an Independent Director of the St. Louis Federal Reserve in January 2017.[1]

Early years[edit]

James Morgan (Jim) McKelvey, Jr., is the eldest son of Edith McKelvey and James Morgan McKelvey, Sr., former dean of engineering at Washington University in St. Louis (WUSTL). McKelvey Jr. was born and raised in St. Louis, Missouri and is a Distinguished Alumni of Ladue Horton Watkins High School.[2] He wrote and published a Handbook on UCSD and Apple Pascal.[3] After graduation from WUSTL, McKelvey worked at IBM's Los Angeles Scientific Center and was simultaneously a glassblowing instructor and founder of Disconcepts, a CD cabinet manufacturing company.[4][5]

Entrepreneurial Work[edit]

Mira Digital Publishing[edit]

In 1991, Mira developed one of the first PC document imaging systems, "Look". The software had limited success and after a contentious start, Mitchell left the company in 1992. Unable to compete with Adobe Acrobat, McKelvey successfully moved the company into tradeshow publishing until the advent of the Internet decimated the existing business model in the mid-1990s. In 1995, with the assistance of one of Mira's summer interns, Jack Dorsey, McKelvey pivoted the company into conference publishing where it remains today. McKelvey left daily management at Mira in 2000, but remains the company’s owner and Chairman.[citation needed]

Third Degree Glass Factory[edit]

McKelvey began blowing glass as a student at WUSTL and later studied briefly with master Lino Talgiapietra. In 2000, after giving a glassblowing demonstration at WUSTL, McKelvey met Doug Auer who shared McKelvey’s passion of the art. Together they founded Third Degree Glass Factory [6] in St. Louis, an artist studio, education center, fine art gallery and event space.

In 2006, McKelvey wrote and published an instructional textbook for glassblowing, The Art of Fire.[7] That same year, Third Degree hosted the world's largest conference for art glass, GAS 2006. 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,[8] Glass Faucet.

Square, Inc.[edit]

In response to McKelvey's frustration at his inability to sell glass faucets by credit card, Dorsey and McKelvey reconnected to found Square.[9][10][11] McKelvey designed the hardware used by Square in 2009 and served as the company’s chairman until 2010.[12] In 2011, McKelvey's iconic card reader design was inducted into the Museum of Modern Art.[citation needed] Today, McKelvey sits on the Board of Directors at Square.

Cultivation Capital[edit]

In 2012, McKelvey teamed with St. Louis-based serial entrepreneurs Brian Matthews, Clifford Holekamp, Peter Esparrago and Rick Holton to found Cultivation Capital. Their venture capital firm manages three funds: an early stage tech fund, an early stage life sciences fund, and a series A growth fund.[13]

Calpian, Inc. (MoneyOnMobile)[edit]

In May 2016, McKelvey joined the Board of Directors of Calpian, Inc.,[14] which offers mobile money solutions through its Indian subsidiary MoneyOnMobile. This venture enables people in India to pay for goods and services and transfer money to other persons via their mobile phones.

The Federal Reserve[edit]

In January 2017, McKelvey was appointed as an Independent Director of the St. Louis Federal Reserve.

Non-profit Work[edit]


In September 2013, McKelvey conceived of and co-founded LaunchCode, a non-profit organization that aims to grow new talent and create pathways to on-the-job training and employment.[15] 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.[16] In 2014, LaunchCode was named "The Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis" by the St. Louis Riverfront Times.[17]


McKelvey is an active philanthropist in the St. Louis area, including a donation of $15M to the Washington University School of Engineering and Applied Science to build a new computer science and engineering building named after his father.[4]


  1. ^ "St. Louis Fed Announces Changes to Board of Directors". stlouisfed.org. 12 December 2016. Retrieved 15 August 2017. 
  2. ^ Dielman, Susan (24 June 2012). ""Distinguished Ladue Alumni Chosen for 2012 Awards Presentation"". Patch.com. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  3. ^ McKelvey, Jim (1986). The Debugger's Handbook=USCD and Apple Pascal. Wadsworth Publishing. ISBN 978-0-534-06432-7. 
  4. ^ a b Ebsworth-Goold, Erika (28 October 2016). ""New engineering building to be named for school's former dean"". The Source. Retrieved 31 October 2016. 
  5. ^ Berglund, John (5 August 2016). ""Rare Company: Jim McKelvey founder of Disconcepts, Square and Launchcode"". Rarecompanybook.com. Retrieved 15 December 2016. 
  6. ^ http://www.stlglass.com, retrieved 2012-01-20  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  7. ^ McKelvey, Jim (2006). The Art of Fire - Beginning Glass Blowing. ISBN 978-0-9786831-1-5. 
  8. ^ http://www.glassfaucet.com, retrieved 2012-01-20  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  9. ^ Calhoun, Lisa. ""Why Square's Co-Founder Says Be Wary of Advice From Successful People"". inc.com. Retrieved 2 November 2016. 
  10. ^ Meyerowitz, Robert. "Jim McKelvey Has Altered the Way Money Changes Hands. Now What?". www.stlmag.com. stlmag.com. Retrieved March 2011.  Check date values in: |access-date= (help)
  11. ^ http://www.squareup.com, retrieved 2012-01-20  Missing or empty |title= (help)
  12. ^ Pontin, Jason. "The New Money". Technology Review. MIT. 
  13. ^ Cultivation Capital plants $100 million St. Louis Business Journal, June 28, 2013. Retrieved September 2, 2013.
  14. ^ "Jim McKelvey, Co-Founder and Director of Square, Joins Calpian, Inc. Board of Directors". Market Wired. May 23, 2016. Retrieved 10 June 2016. 
  15. ^ Lloyd, Tim. "Square founder hopes to turn St. Louis into the Silicon Prairie". Marketplace. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  16. ^ "About - So What is LaunchCode?". LaunchCode. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 
  17. ^ "Best Thing to Happen to St. Louis St. Louis 2014 - LaunchCode". Riverfront Times. Retrieved 6 October 2014. 

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