Foursquare Moving Forward

I read Austin Carr’s piece on Dennis Crowley and Foursquare this morning and thought it was a great look at the face of Foursquare, as well as the company that it has become.

“The gist is that Foursquare no longer requires you to tell it where you are; the app is now smart enough to sense your location and offer recommendations for what to do while you’re there or after you leave.”

I’ve been a huge fan of the product since I started using it a few years ago, and have subsequently forced a lot of my less tech-inclined friends (and parents) to use it as well. The most common complaint I get from them is that people forget to open it up or they don’t want to have to manually check in everywhere. Most people don’t understand just how difficult this is to implement, but once foursquare figures that out, it will be game-changing.

“The thing I fear, which would be devastating for the industry, let alone Dennis, is that he gets rushed and Foursquare can’t monetize, they can’t raise [another round], and they have to sell to Facebook or Google or whoever,” Dash says. “And then at 40, Dennis has to start over. Because he’ll do it again—there’s no question. But then the world will have to wait another goddamn 10 years for this thing.”

I too have a similar fear as Anil Dash, because it’s only a matter of time before the location layer matures and allows us to see the world around us in a more advanced way. In any city, there are so many stories, places, and experiences to unlock, and I think Foursquare is the closest to doing that. Findery is trying to appeal to the experiences side of the conversation, but I don’t believe the majority of people want to spend the time to do this, and you need scale to truly “unlock” an entire city.

As many others have said, Foursquare tips are tidbits of information that can significantly alter how we experience the world. People today are moving faster and are more hyperactive than ever before. The quick nature of the Tip allows for a huge return on investment vs. time spent.

“If you know where everybody is, where they’re going, and what they’re going to do when they get there, and you can’t make money on that, you’re a fucking idiot,”

I don’t think Crowley, his team, or his investors are idiots, so I’m confident in Foursquare’s ability to monetize. I do think they need to be careful in maintaining the user experience while offering ads that help users, and not just show new unrelated products (the Samsung Galaxy promotion for example, while cool, was a bit too ad-driven for me). As advertisers recognize the value that this data brings, it will only be a matter of time before this happens.

I’ve briefly met DC and on the surface he was the down-to-earth, normal guy from MA, that having grown up there, I’ve come to know so well, and instinctively want to root for. However, regardless of personality, he’s created a revolutionary product that may have initially started ahead of its time, but now is hitting its stride and taking aim at a less-effective and antiquated industry leader (Yelp) and solving a problem that almost everyone living in a city has.

I don’t have any final thoughts to drive this post home because everybody has their own opinion on how this will turn out and the definition of a win. Regardless of what happens, while we’re waiting for a company, a figure, and an idea to sink or swim, we’ll all continue to check-in, and foursquare will continue to learn.