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04/03/2013 by

Foursquare: Lean, Mean But Focussed On Multi Screen

Foursquare is the mean, lean and sexy free SoLoMo App, that is dedicated to go beyond mobile with their multi screen strategy.

Foursquare: Lean, Mean But Focussed On Multi Screen

I am a Foursquare fan since day one. And have been following Foursquare closely since that day. Why?

Not strange, if you know that I worked for an innovative start-up SoLoMo and local search company from 1997-2000. But there are more reasons why you should watch this lean, mean location machine.

Whether you’re setting off on a trip around the world, coordinating a night out with friends, or trying to pick out the best dish at your local restaurant, Foursquare is the perfect companion.

Yes I am aware that it is still relatively small. Often too small for media planners to embed it in their POE media strategy.

But big is only good when smart, right?

Being small can also be: Mean, lean, sexy, specialized and very focused.

On ViralBlog we share insights and our opinions: our subjective beliefs that are a result of our knowledge, experience, emotions and our interpretations of facts.

So let’s start with some facts about Foursquare

Community: Over 30 million people worldwide
Over 3 billion check-ins, with millions more every day
Businesses: Over a million using the Merchant Platform
Employees: +100 between HQ in New York, office in San Francisco and outpost in London.

Foursquare co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai met in 2007 while working in the same office space (at different companies) in New York City.

Working from Dennis’ kitchen table in New York’s East Village, they began building the first version of Foursquare in fall 2008, and launched it at South by Southwest Interactive in Austin, Texas in March 2009.

The Value and Future Value of Foursquare?

Foursquare is funded by Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital and a handful of angel investors.

Today, Foursquare is a free App for consumers. And Foursquare doesn’t charge merchants for setting up an account, either.

So, how do they make money? They charge for Special Deals and they partner with daily deal sites like Groupon.

But making money or being profitable is not always the immediate business model for innovative niche start-ups. Or let’s be clearer: Their VCs.

Small start-ups might offer value to much bigger players. Remember Facebook buying Instagram for $1 billion almost one year ago?

Well Instagram was not making money, it was a lossmaking start-up.

So why angel investors and VCs are interested in mobile or SoLoMo start-ups? Well, the Instagram example seems loud and clear?

If you are interested in that part of mobile and SoLoMo: In the USA VC Kleiner Perkins alone already has put over $450 Million in nearly 40 mobile start-ups.

Foursquare: Lean, Mean But Focussed On Multi Screen

Foursquare the Future Location Layer for the Internet?

Foursquare might turn into a different company in the near future. They certainly have a long term strategic vision, and so have their VCs.

At the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Dennis Crowley, CEO at Foursquare, highlighted Google’s new headgear as an example of how mobile screens are evolving.

He told that he is looking how Foursquare can evolve along with similar trends.

“Anywhere there’s a screen, we want to put our stuff on it, whether that’s on a phone, or a watch, or whatever,” he said. He also added that Foursquare hasn’t yet worked with Google Glass itself.

Crowley said that Foursquare would like to launch a new feature that builds on this concept, enhancing the “contextual awareness”.

“The best version of Foursquare is the one you don’t think about using,” he told TechCrunch on the sidelines of today’s keynote.

“The relaunch of Radar is inevitable: it’s very important to us.”

Foursquare Radar coming back soon?

And while for Foursquare part of reaching that goal is to be on as many platforms as possible, it’s also about integrating with other applications, furthering its own position as a platform for location services.

The company already works with 40,000 developers to power location services, including Path, Instagram and Evernote.

“We’re slowly starting to become the location layer for the Internet,” Crowley said.

My Opinion on SoLoMo Media & Multi Screen?

Should you really care that I worked in local search or SoLoMo? Not really. Should you care that I love Foursquare? Guess not.

Should you care that media planners think Foursquare is too small for global brands? Not really.

Chance is that most media planners will be replaced by RTB platforms and other big-data machines the coming decade anyway.

So my passions, emotions and subjective believes, I know they can be tricky.

However, what if these subjective believe are a result of my knowledge, based on 20 years’ experience in digital and the ability to see some future disruptive trends that will change the rules in the marketplace?

The most important thing is that we are moving from web 2.0 towards web 3.0.

Meaning, a new era in which a lot of “web technologies” will be connected “under water”, enabling people to do new things facilitated by new intermediating layers.

Foursquare could become one of that intermediating location or check-in layers for the Internet.

So if Foursquare keeps developing, integrating and connecting its technology, based on a multi-screen and not a mobile strategy, Foursquare could be that layer.

More important, the whole role of Foursquare and its business model could turn 180 degrees or more. It might flip the funnel.

And for the disruptive minds and non-linear thinkers among our readers – the ones without legacy – you will have connected Foursquare the dots already:

What the last 500,000,000 Foursquare check-ins look like

The last 500.000.000 check-ins at Foursquare

Foursquare’s location database is based on millions of check-ins every day, it’s incredibly reliable and up-to-date.

That’s why everyone from Instagram and Bing to Flickr, Quora, Path, Soundtracking, Evernote, Garmin, and thousands of other developers use Foursquare location information to power their apps.

Over 100 million people a month see Foursquare’s location information through their partners. If Foursquare will become that intermediating layer, it could also diss intermediate several large players.

This is one of the most important reasons why I love Foursquare: Its future potential to disrupt.

Foursquare is a global big-data play for check-ins, not just a free SoLoMo App.

And you can bet your butt on it, that this is the exact reason why companies Andreessen Horowitz decided to fund Foursquare in an early stage.

But how could media planners explain this to global brands? They are still showing excel sheets: Sites, apps, and platforms all just based on their “reach” alone.

What About You?

How do you like Foursquare? What do you expect from its future in a web 3.0 era? Our readers would love to see your opinion in the comments below.

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About the Author
Igor Beuker was CMO at 3 listed companies, chairmain at the IAB, jury member at Webby, AMMA and Esprix awards, founder of 2 agencies (both sold to WPP) and global chief social officer at Mindshare. Now he is ‘freejack’ consultant and a sought after keynote speaker.


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