Several years ago, San Francisco-based agency West opened up shop and it's only outward facing presence was, and still is, a website with just one link to any kind of information about the agency--a LinkedIn profile. The agency was founded by former Apple exec Allison Johnson and is backed by "direct ownership interest" of Jack Dorsey, co-founder and CEO Twitter as well as founder and CEO of Square.
A recent S-1 filing notes that West received $1.2 million for "consulting services" performed on behalf of Square. While there's certainly nothing wrong with one person having a financial interest in several companies at a time, it's interesting that, as far as we can tell, Dorsey handed that $1.2 million (from which he will benefit) directly to West without a review. Hey, you can't blame a guy for double dipping when the opportunity presents itself.
This sort of thing, of course, goes on all the time but it does raise questions regarding conflict of interest in the sense that it could be construed that Dorsey gave the business so as to realize financial benefit rather than the fact that West was or was not the best fit for the job at hand.
West, with a little over 50 employees according to LinkedIn, counts Tumblr, Jawbone, Rdio and, according to a Business Intelligence source, Path.
Upon review, TechCrunch called the agency's website "pretentious." While it could certainly be interpreted that way, "different" or "simple" could very well be applied as well. Other agencies, Mother and the now-defunct Boston shop Modernista, both took this approach upon launch, sharing little information about their shops and exuding a quirky or hip presence.
Typically startups like to keep anything related to their business close to the vest so working with a so-called "secretive" agency that's, in this case, in Dorsey's back pocket, so to speak, makes perfect sense. And if no one's breaking any laws, more power to the both of them.