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Square Hires Tesla Executive Amid Effort to Double Staff

Square Inc., a startup that makes credit-card readers for smartphones and tablets, hired communications executive Ricardo Reyes amid an effort to double its staff to 500 this year.

Reyes, who previously ran communications at Tesla Motors Inc. and Google Inc.’s YouTube, started today as Square’s vice president of communications and brand marketing, said Aaron Zamost, a spokesman for the San Francisco-based company.

“Ricardo has tremendous experience launching beautiful, design-driven products for world-class brands like Tesla and YouTube,” Zamost said in an e-mail. “We look forward to the expertise he’ll bring to Square.”

Square aims to ward off competition from larger companies, including EBay Inc.’s PayPal division and Intuit Inc., which are pushing deeper into the mobile-payment market. The company announced last month that it hired PayPal veteran Alyssa Cutright to manage international business, and Square added former Apple Inc. executive Jesse Dorogusker to run its hardware division in November. The company has more than 250 employees and expects to end the year with 500, Zamost said.

Square’s technology lets U.S. businesses handle payments via Apple’s iPhone and iPad, as well as devices running on Google’s Android software. The card reader plugs into the headphone jack of the mobile device, enabling merchants to swipe customers’ credit and debit cards.

Square’s card reader, introduced in 2010, is now processing more than $4 billion in payments a year. Merchants can buy the equipment at Wal-Mart Stores Inc., Apple outlets and Target Corp. stores.

Created by Twitter Inc. co-founder Jack Dorsey, Square has raised more than $140 million from venture capitalists, including Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers, Sequoia Capital and Khosla Ventures.

Last month, PayPal unveiled its own smartphone card reader to challenge Square. The thumb-sized device, called PayPal Here, can scan checks. Like Square’s reader, it works with all four major credit-card networks.

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