We met with Dennis Crowley, CEO, and Holger Luedorf, VP and Head of Bus Dev at Foursquare.
Dennis says that while they started as a simple check-in tool and badges got them out of the block. Then it became more of a measurement tool, indicating what locations achieved popularity from users. But now it has become more of a recommendation tool based on previous history of checkins of all users. Holger says that foursquare is not any longer a gamification system but rather a tool that helps users make sense of the world. They now have the app operating in 12 languages.
More than a million businesses have claimed their retail and office spaces and many have begun to make offers for their consumers.
Businesses are now paying Foursquare to help individuals to their locations.
Next big thing for Foursquare is automated check-ins. Instead of manual check-ins, foursquare apps will automatically check-in if you are in a location for any extended period (eg: > 10 mins).
Additionally, Foursquare will know when you have not been in a place before and will make recommendations on the basis of what your friends do. Or it will make recommendations on what you may want to do in accordance with what you have done before.
Emergent tech excites Foursquare because it helps them to realise some of the ideas they have had for a long time.
About 2 years ago, Foursquare wanted to get some developers to join the firm, but they didn’t want to move to New York. So they decided to set up an office to support those engineers. And it made sense to be able to source further engineers here.
There are 30 people in San Francisco (of 150 people in all). But they wish they had a bigger presence. And they are hiring – engineering people, product people, data scientists. They want the best people because the data is highly complex but has the capacity to change people’s lives. The goal is to build the best team – not grow fast.
Holger says that the nature of Foursquare is that it is a platform as much as a network. They are learning from the big players – making sure they don’t make the same mistakes. Brazil, Turkey, Japan and Indonesia.
Launched their first monetisation product 8 weeks ago. They are not interested in pursuing a badge oriented incentives programme or associatibg themsleves with television programmes or content platforms. Consumer behaviour and big data is their monetisation strategy. Interested in getting journalists to comment on the changes in consumer behaviour rather than doing that research themselves.
There are no ambitions for acquisition of Foursquare, rather competition with big players. Holger says complementary organisations like Highlight and Sonar are leveraging the passive connections between people. They feel that it’s not their core focus.
There are different use cases in different areas, and recommendations will be more common in areas where users have not yet been.
People who want to use the Foursquare API can get it for free, but there will be a return for Foursquare in terms of branding or another return for Foursquare’s future development.
Holger says that Twitter are friends and they get ex-Twitter staff. This means they can help one another use and get maximum value from their services.
Investors have cocktail parties, and people have hackathons in the Foursquare offices. They open up the APIs and allow anyone to create their own games, features, etc.
Holger says the biggest change to the region is that it’s not the only source of innovation in the country. Not a great deal has changed in terms of the region, but perhaps there is more competition in the area. There is a type of personality that likes to live in the city.
According to Holger, the key to success for Foursquare has been Dennis’s vision. Good timing was also a key. But innovation arises from accessing information and making the most of the world and emergent technologies. It is what is exciting about the sector.