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December 07, 2010

Dennis Crowley - Foursquare (Kara)

Dennis Crowley - Foursquare (Kara)

Not profitable, we have enough money to last to the end of next year, we are hiring up as quickly as possible and to build out as quickly as possible. We got $20mi and not currently looking for more. Valuation was around $100mi. We are 41 people but well supported by the developer community.

We've had these ideas for a long time about what we want to build so when we had the decision about do we stay independent or align with a bigger company and they felt independence was better. For us it's about continuing to build things that they way they should be built and to remain independent. The Dodgeball stuff informed this. Y aThe timing was way out of whack.

Kara challenges that he just replayed Dodgeball. With Foursquare Dennis says it was the foundation but they added game mechanics. After Google I went to work at area code and as this shaped the vision of Foursquare. In college we used to play Foursquare all the time at block parties.

Q: What is it right now? It's different things to different people. We are building tools to mobile phones to make the real world more interesting. If you make a badge about going to the gym and it makes them go to the gym more that's pretty interesting. We use game mechanics to get people over the hump of signing up ands keep them involved for a month or so. We are excited about revisiting the game mechanics and we are now getting really good at this so let's rethink this. Different mechanics that pull levers for different people.

Kara: I want stuff. Dennis: under the hood it's a stats engine. We have retailers that are lining up to give aways stuff. Building a coupling engine on top of the stats.

Kara: automatic check in? I go into the Apple store and there is always a teenager sexting. I want the Apple store to say it's Kara Swisher and start petting me. Dennis: are people going to have screens behind the bar, can you see loyalty information in real time at check in and who is there.

Dennis: every time we do a deal with a big merchant we have to do custom, so we are focusing on tools to make it easier for merchants to integrate. We have thousands of developers working on the API.

Assisted serendipity now looking at ratio of girls to guys and tipping points in a bar. Taxi sharing apps. Game called mob zombies. Things people doing about our dataset.

Kara: competition. Facebook check-in, Groupon. Dennis: good for the industry. Creates awareness. I don't think the are stealing our idea. Checkin becomes a commodity the check in itself isn't interesting, it's what happens after the checkin. Some people are going to love the deals, some people will like sharing with their friends some people will love the crowd sourced data. Personally I am most excited about the utility 'making New York easier to navigate.'

Dennis: we haven't wanted to charge local merchants for a product that is not good enough. The model is to be able to create and sell tools to local merchants. Also getting brands involved. History Channel and Bravo tagging the real world with lat/long and at check in we can tie this content into the experience.

Kara: where do you go. Dennis: we are focused on the near term product roadmap.

Kara: Groupon and Google. Dennis: I don't see Groupon as a competitor. There is a lot of overlap. We could partner with a Groupon. Certain deals could be sweeter based on check-in information and the stats.

Dennis: the most difficult thing for us is that it's 40 people. The exercise of growing, the company keeps breaking. It took us a long time to figure out how to build the engine to build the products. Team working better, processes. I am still doing a lot of product stuff and a lot of evangelism. I have a hard time with this, I have always been hands on, have had to learn how to delegate.

Kara: what's overhyped? Dennis: I don't have a good answer. I think this is under hyped. I don't think people understand how this is going to change the way that people interact with physical space.

Passive check ins: great idea but the GPS device resolution isn't there yet. The other thing is that it drains your battery life. These are issues that go against passive check in.

Question: read a stat that % of check ins are private. Check in off the grid for privacy but personally it is great to have my breadcrumbs. If I check in off the grid I can get badges but not for mayor. Check in in Foursquare social graph vs publishing to broader social graph.

question: how do you prio devices? We have priod iPhone because we are iphone users. Ramping up on android. Ultimately we want to be agnostic. We have symbian, palm, windows mobile and they were built using the API.


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