All posts in “Foursquare”

Foursquare partners with TripAdvisor

Foursquare, the former location-based social network turned enterprise location data platform, has today announced a new partnership with TripAdvisor.

TripAdvisor will be using Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK, launched in March 2017, to help the platform better serve users with contextually relevant, real-time information based on their location.

Alongside the 13 billion check-ins accumulated on Foursquare’s apps since inception, the company also has analytics based on a consumer panel of more than 70 million people in the U.S. — 10 million of whom that have opted into always-on location sharing. This data is the same data that powers Foursquare’s own apps, like, for example, when you get a push notification with a menu tip as you sit down for dinner at a restaurant.

Pilgrim SDK and Foursquare’s other enterprise products give other apps the ability to communicate with users with contextual relevance, and that’s what TripAdvisor is looking to do through this partnership.

TripAdvisor recently launched a new app and website that focuses on social sharing and personalized recommendations. Foursquare’s Pilgrim SDK compliments TripAdvisor technology, ensuring that hyper-personalized recommendations are truly accurate.

TripAdvisor reaches more than half a billion users worldwide, which significantly increases the pool of user data Foursquare can potentially access.

This comes on the heels of Foursquare’s Series F financing round, which was announced last month.

Foursquare brings on Liz Ritzcovan as Chief Revenue Officer

Foursquare has just hired Liz Ritzcovan as Chief Revenue Officer.

Ritzcovan hails from BazaarVoice, where she also served as CRO. She previously held CRO positions at Sizmek and Parade Media Group, and before that, spent time at Yahoo, Time Inc, and Interbrand.

Though Foursquare has been around since 2009, things have changed a lot for the company. What started as a consumer-facing app to log and share location information has become a SaaS company focused on helping brands understand their customer’s real-world habits and convert those habits into meaningful transactions and experiences.

That started with the unbundling of the legacy Foursquare app into Foursquare (a Yelp competitor centered around recommendations) and Swarm (a social location check-in app). As of 2016, both apps have more than 50 million active users, which has in turn yielded the data necessary to create enterprise tools.

For example, Pinpoint by Foursquare (an ad product) has more than half of the Ad Age 100 as advertisers, and Attribution by Foursquare (a metric tracking product) has doubled its revenue in 2017. And that doesn’t include the Pilgrim SDK and Places API, which helped contribute to Foursquare’s 50 percent revenue growth year over year for the past three years.

Ritzcovan is aware that, despite the growth of e-commerce, 90 percent of consumer spending and memorable experiences happen in the real world. But getting clients, usually internet-facing companies, to understand that is her new great challenge.

Here’s what she had to say in her announcement blog post:

So what is my first priority as CRO? Client centricity. Foursquare needs to deepen our connection with our partners: explaining to business leaders why it’s critical to leverage more than a single Foursquare solution—be it ad campaigns with Pinpoint, measurement with Attribution, or location-based CRM and messaging with our Pilgrim SDK and Places API—by taking all of these parts together and connecting the dots. Foursquare is more and more about bundling technology licensing, mapping capabilities, and marketing optimization in a suite of solutions. It’s the reason I joined, to help lead the team into packaging these broad “solution sets” for leading organizations and brands.

Dolo delivers on the Foursquare prophecy of hyper-local tips

Dolo is the kindness of strangers as an app. Where’s the prettiest place in the park? What’s the best thing on the menu? How do I skip the line? Dolo lets you leave helpful suggestions for anyone nearby. The new social app launches out of beta today to augment the world with serendipitous tips from strangers. Built by two ex-Apple employees and backed with pre-seed funding from Floodgate, Dolo could reveal the secrets and potential friends hidden in the ether around us.

Like any new social app, Dolo will have a steep uphill climb to user growth. There are also apps like Foursquare, guide books like Lonely Planet, and social networks like Facebook and its Recommendations feature to compete with. But they’re often bloated, outdated, or unfocused. Dolo hopes to build a new community around turning the whole world into a bulletin board.

“If you take the construct of a cocktail party or a neighborhood bar, people feel more naturally ‘allowed’ to just mingle, eavesdrop, start a conversation, or even meet someone new” says Dolo co-founder and CEO Raja Haddad. “In larger spaces (a park, a neighborhood, a city), there are no vehicles today that allow such frictionless, comfortable, fun socializing.” That means a local expert’s knowledge ends up trapped while tourists and first-timers wander aimlessly.

Haddad and co-founder Benjamin Vigier met when they joined Apple in 2010 and worked on its Apple Store App before Haddad move on to Apple Watch marketing and Vigier helped develop Apple Pay. They later met Andy Mai at Coachella, who grew the Men’s Fashion Advice subreddit to over a million users. Together they set out “to enable serendipitous ways for people to socialize with other people around them, regardless of their pre-existing social bubbles.”

Dolo’s iOS and Android apps are now open everywhere, but it’s currently focusing on the San Francisco Bay Area where it centered its 4000 user beta. The app start with a feed of the closest tips that automatically re-sort as you move around. Anyone can post that “I need some info or a favor”, “folks need to know this!”, “I’m proposing an event”, or “just chatter and banter”. For example, my first contribution was that you can skip the line at famously overpopulated ice cream shop Bi-Rite Creamery by walking down the block to its soft-serve froyo window near SF’s Dolores Park.

That popular hipster picnic spot is actually where Dolo gets its name. And no, it’s not the same as the now defunct “bespoke app” called Dolo from 2013 that just helped you locate your friends in that park.

I was impressed by Dolo’s approach to safety and moderation that other anonymous and hyper-local apps like Yik Yak and Secret neglected until bullying led to their demise. You can use your real name or a pseudonym on Dolo, and choose a pixelated filter or mask sticker to obscure your face from the public. But then if you connect as friends with someone on the app, “the masks come off” Haddad says, and your profile’s bio is revealed. Meanwhile, users are empowered to moderate comments on their own posts by getting alerted to flags that Dolo reviews too. And all photos get reviewed by a crowdsourced moderation service.

Dolo smartly plans to “focus on achieving density vs. going directly for top-line scale” Haddad explains. That mirrors Facebook’s growth strategy that tried to get lots of users at specific colleges or locations so they don’t enter a ghost town, rather than immediately striving for global scale. It’s already raised $680,000 in a pre-seed round a year ago, but will try to raise a seed round early this summer. It hopes to put that cash into product development, and marketing activations at colleges and public places in the fall. 

Advertisers might be keen to reach potential customers when they’re super close-by and looking for local information. But that will require plenty of users as well as a tough-to-scale local ads sales team. Haddad admits “It’s obviously very challenging to get a social platform off the ground, particularly one that relies on location and density.”

NextDoor has at least proven that people are interested in local info, given it’s active in 160,000 neighborhoods. The question is if an app designed to alert you to what’s around you anywhere, rather than just close to home, will have the same legs. Dolo will also have to outlast specialized apps like Wildfire for celebrity sightings and safety alerts, Citizen for crime mapping, and Hive Social for interest-based communities.

It’s somewhat depressing, but an app like Facebook that already has ubiquity, frequent use, and local ad relationships might be better equipped to build this product than a startup. Dolo will have to figure out how to make adding and observing tips a constant enough behavior that users don’t forget about it.

But at least Dolo isn’t burdened by a hundred other features crowding out the local recommendations for attention, nor is it constrained by relying on your existing friend graph. A dedicated app for the insights of passersby holds the promise of not only illuminating what’s around us, but also mending our polarized society.

Foursquare VP of business development Mike Harkey has left for Google


Foursquare’s VP of business development Mike Harkey, who has been with the company for more than 5 years, has left to join Google as its director of global product partnerships.

His LinkedIn page shows that he joined Google this month after serving a lengthy tenure at Foursquare, which has seen a significant shift from an early darling as a check-in product to one with a robust enterprise business and location data set. Foursquare now has products like City Guide, which provide a wide array of tips, locations and other information for venues in different cities.

“[Harkey] moved on to a role at Google after 5 terrific years with Foursquare,” the company said. “We’re wishing him all the best. Jeff Reine, who has been with Foursquare for two years, was named the new VP of Business Development and Enterprise.”

The company raised $45 million at the beginning of last year as it began to capitalize on its data business as co-founder Dennis Crowley took a step back. That data business, indeed, is probably the company’s strongest asset as its location services power a myriad of services. As Foursquare looks to continue building out those partnerships, Harkey’s departure may be a bit of a speed bump, as he takes a lot of experience working with the platform with him over to Google. Foursquare is going to have to continue building out those kinds of partnerships if it’s going to thrive off its data business.

Over that time, the company has gathered as many as 125,000 developers and powers location services for companies like Uber and Airbnb. While starting off as a consumer product, Foursquare was able to create a thorough set of so-called “true” locations of venues, which might not be a specific latitude and longitude but rather a general area that exists in the minds of consumers. And it built a suite of developer tools on top of that, allowing developers to quickly tap that data if they need a big data set of venues, locations, and information around those.

We also reached out to Harkey, and will update when we hear back.

Featured Image: Foursquare

Facebook relaunches Events app as Facebook Local, adds bars and food


Bad news for Yelp and good news for nightlife lovers. When you want to go out, it doesn’t necessarily have to be to an event. So to help you discover bars, restaurants, and nearby attractions too, Facebook is rebranding its standalone Events app as “Facebook Local”. Launching in the U.S. today on iOS and Android, Facebook Local combines events and permanent places to a single search engine powered by Facebook 70 million business Pages plus reviews and friends’ checkins.

Facebook Local product manager Aditya Koolwal tells me the goal was to “Make it as lot easier to do certain kind of looks ups that are very common when making plans with friends.” For now, he tells me Facebook Local won’t feature ads from businesses and events trying to stand out, but says “we’ll think about advertising way further down the line.”

Facebook first launched the Events app just over a year ago to help that one friend who rallies everyone to go out find where to bring everyone. It was useful for seeing Event invites and wall posts in one place, and seeing nearby happenings on a certain day. But it was a bit buggy, redundant with the main Facebook app’s event feature, and ruled out place that were fun every night rather than just when they threw parties.

Facebook Local could help you pick between great bars on a block, and find out if one has a band playing. Here’s how the app works.

Facebook Local’s home page shows shortcuts to see nearby restaurants, cafes, drinks, attractions, and more, as well as where friends and people you follow go. You’ll see a calendar of your day’s Events, a Trending Events feed, guides to music, nightlife, art, and other happenings, and options to see everything going on on certain days. A Discover feed shows top suggestions and what’s popular with friends. And a Calendar tab lays out all your Event invites and RSVPs.

Even if you don’t use the standalone Facebook Local app, you’ll still benefit. Koolwal tells me Facebook and Local share the same code, so when it improves something like the ability to search for “cappucino” not just “cafes”, that enhancement populates back to Facebook.

If Facebook actually promotes the Facebook Local app, it could become a legitimate alternative to Yelp or Foursquare, using both Facebook’s wide range of local business data with your social graph and user generated content like photos and reviews. That in turn could convince businesses to invest more in their Facebook Pages, turn all their offline happenings into Facebook Events, and seek more social content from their customers.