eFormula Evolution C Tim Godfrey, Steve Clayton and Aidan Booth

Mixergy – FourSquare Interview, How a $95 Million Company is Built

Mixergy – FourSquare Interview, How a $95 Million Company is Built


Dennis Crowley’s vision for Foursquare extends way beyond the check-in.

The cofounder and CEO of Foursquare envisions a future where our mobile devices learn our behavior and provide suggestions for events, or what to eat for dinner based on a taste profile the company has developed by observing our behavior over the years. People will spend less time on decisions and more time on experience, because our phones can make them for us.

The simple act of “checking-in,” or sharing your location data with friends on various social networks, does more than alert followers to where you are—it creates a data point that contains significant personal information about you and the businesses you patronize. Foursquare’s aim is to turn that data into new services for you—and its advertisers and partners, of course.

Foursquare check-ins help map out the physical space of buildings, businesses and organizations around us, often with more accuracy than Google Maps or other location services. By using the data of 45 million users, the company has created a kind of crowdsourced map, or as the company calls it, “venue polygons.”

Beyond mapping location data around the world, Foursquare is also mapping interests—in the process, profiling its users based on where they eat and shop and what they say about their experiences. The company learns your habits—what restaurants you like, when you visit them, and what you order. Using a variety of tactics like sentiment and time analysis, Foursquare can build a cache of personal information it then uses to provide you with suggestions on where to go in the future. (Some of those suggestions will be delivered on behalf of Foursquare’s advertising partners.)

The idea of your mobile device telling you where to go next is still fairly new. The company only rolled out real-time suggestions last fall. Foursquare is still experimenting with how to deliver the best possible suggestions in hopes of ultimately turning your mobile device into the friend that plans your next night out.

I sat down with Crowley to talk about the decision engine Foursquare is building, and how that factors into the future of anticipatory computing.

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