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A Square point-of-sale terminal. (Square Photo)

Square is putting down permanent roots in Seattle, scooping up a new downtown office space with room to grow as it looks to take advantage of the region’s deep pool of tech talent.

Square first parachuted into Seattle in 2017, landing at the Industrious co-working space across the street from the Amazon Spheres. Now the maker of popular mobile credit card readers said it has leased a 14,000-square-foot floor at the Financial Center building in downtown Seattle, giving it room for approximately 100 people.

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Square’s growth follows a playbook established by more than 120 companies from around the world that have set up engineering centers in Seattle to access top talent. Some of those companies, such as Google and Facebook, have grown their engineering centers to the point that they are among the biggest players in the local tech scene.

Today there are about 20 Squares, company lingo for its employees, working in Seattle. Square is hiring people in Seattle for jobs focused on machine learning, developer tools, its core payment business and Caviar, the restaurant delivery service the company acquired in 2014.

“We’re expanding our footprint in Seattle, and we’re excited to find new Squares who want to build tools that help people participate and thrive in the economy,” said Taylor Cascino, head of talent for Square.

The Financial Center Building in Seattle. (Unico Properties Photo)

Square, which went public in 2015, has grown steadily since it was founded in 2009 by Twitter chief Jack Dorsey. The company is one of the most well known names in a crowded field of companies building mobile credit card readers. It is facing off against a number of startups as well as big companies such as PayPal and most recently T-Mobile.

Square’s Cash App.

Square is also branching out beyond its hardware, with a focus on mobile payments. In January, the company launched a new In-App Payments software development kit that allows developers and sellers to build apps using Square to process mobile payments. The company also recently launched its own physical debit card that lets sellers spend money as soon as they make a sale and added employee benefits capabilities to its payroll app.

The mobile payments field is as crowded as it gets, with high-profile competitors like Venmo, Facebook Pay, PayPal and more. Companies including Stripe and PayPal’s Braintree have also been offering similar app payment services to developers for years.

In its letter to shareholders for the fourth quarter, Square said its mobile payments Cash App had more than 15 million monthly active customers in December, more than double from a year prior.

Square’s headcount grew 43 percent in 2018, with 3,349 employees at the end of the year, up from 2,338 workers at the end of 2017, per the company’s annual 10-K filings with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission.

Square is unprofitable but reported total net revenue of $3.3 billion last year, an increase of 49 percent over 2017. In the fourth quarter alone, Square brought in $933 million in revenue, up 51 percent year-over-year.

As revenue and headcount have risen, so too have expenses and losses. Net loss in the fourth quarter was $28 million, up 75 percent year-over-year. However, factoring in losses due to a previous investment in Eventbrite brings net loss in the quarter down to $12 million, which would represent a 25 percent decrease in losses.

Operating expenses rose 52 percent over the fourth quarter of 2017.

Square’s stock has risen 30 percent since the beginning of the year to $73.40 as of Thursday morning. However, the stock has dipped 26 percent since hitting an all-time high in September.

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