Playing Foursquare

Though I am late to this game, I have started playing foursquare. I tried to get into it a few times, but since I don't carry an iPhone, the web UI always turned me off. But Eric showed me the mobile web UI a few days ago and that works well for me.

For those who don't know, Foursquare is a game about "checking into" places you are physically at. The game play is light but fun nonetheless. You get points and badges as you check into more places. I'm a big believer in the power of game play to encourage users to engage more frequently with a service.

But the value (like most social nets) comes with frequent usage and a large friend network in the system. Charlie O'Donnell makes that point well in his post about Foursquare yesterday. Charlie says:

The other night, I realized that I was about to go to a place that Mike Galpert had been to about an hour or so before me, so I called him to ask what he had.  Indeed, the spinach gnocci at Supper was excellent.

Foursquare is delicious for places. It's a dead simple way to record where you've been, and if you feel like it, what you thought of it. I like that idea and that's why I am going to play foursquare.

I am also very encouraged by the fact that, like Twitter, Foursquare has an API that allows any developer to build a Foursquare app. I hereby request a slick Blackberry app. What I'd really like is a mobile app that would allow me to check into foursquare and also check in with Twitter. I'd be all set then.

This is my profile. I'm just getting started. I am going to use the Facebook rule in terms of friends. I am only going to friend people I actually know and would likely go out to dinner with. So if you request me and I don't accept, please don't get upset.

Reblog this post [with Zemanta]

Comments (Archived):

  1. bijan

    I was holding off because I was anxious about how it would impact my tweets/day.but charlie’s post pushed me over the edge too.Here’s my profile on foursquare…

    1. marram

      Have you seen Sponty? It is a “twitter” for casual social events. Even easier than Foursquare, albeit without the game part.

  2. kskobac

    I ran into one of the founders of Foursquare at CIA a month or so ago and asked him about the Android app (especially since he said he favors Android himself over iPhone). They’re in development by passionate 3rd parties of the service since Foursquare is low on resources right now. However, they’re supporting the work and you can sign up for the beta for your particular device here:….

    1. fredwilson

      Thanks for that link. I’ll sign up for bberry

    2. cemilturun

      Is the CIA in your comment, the centrally intelligent one that we know? If yes, what is the founder of Foursquare doing there? Are the founders of US start-ups obliged to obtain permission from the government agencies?

      1. kskobac

        hm, i should have written “CEA” – Consumer Electronics Association – that just had a road show in NYC last month!

        1. cemilturun

          Sorry everyone! I am now the centrally stupid agent of AVC.

          1. fredwilson

            Nobody is called stupid here if I can hep it

          2. fredwilson

            Nobody is called stupid here if I can hep it

  3. andrewparker

    FYI, I’m currently Mayor of Union Square Ventures. Good luck taking that crown 😉

    1. fredwilson

      I’m more interested in becoming mayor of the shake shack!

      1. bijan

        if tumblarity is any indication, i think we are gonna see some healthy, competition between a few unnamed friends about their foursquare status & rankbtw, i’m at 378 today;)

        1. fredwilson

          378 tumblarity? I dropped below 200 and can’t seem to get any lift at all this week

  4. Vladimir Vukicevic

    I think the points/badges system, when applied intelligently, fosters active participation. More websites/apps should incorporate this type of mechanism.

    1. fredwilson

      I agree

      1. Vladimir Vukicevic

        Educational applications come to mind right away – creating the equivalent of the gold star stickers in learning software.

  5. Jitle

    The more you play it, the more you enjoy it. I really love foursquare and am constantly pushing it on my friends. I look forward to your review.I know from your previous expectations and addresses of companies that their will be one thing that will not live up to your expectations, as it has not of mine, and that is being able to access your data.I hope it is a problem they are currently working on but I would love to dig through every location I have been to easily by day, month, or who I checked in with.The difference is if you asked for that…it would likely happen 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      I’ll make sure to ask for it. I wonder if they can surface that info via the api and allow third parties to do it

  6. ShanaC

    Now that would be awesome on a college campus- but needs more cities (a lot more). Combo of people wanting to get out, slight competitiveness, and youth culture.I’ll test that today. We’ll see how it goes.

  7. Dennis Crowley

    Hey all – thanks for the comments. A few things:+ We have Blackberry, Android & Pre app in the works (Android = closest to launch). API is in private beta now, tho you can email us for sneak peek: team[at]playfoursquare[dotcom]+ @Fred, if you go to the “settings” page online (…, you can link your foursquare -> Twitter. Then, the next you check-in via the mobile website, you’ll see the option to send your checkin to Twitter.+ @Jason, we have a basic “history” page now that shows you were you’ve been (… and a “stats” page that tries to make some sense out of this data (…. The v2 of this (soon!) is a mashup of these – much better info on where you’ve been and where you should be going.Thanks again!

    1. ShanaC

      Long terms thoughts about photo integration you say “do this”- but the west way to model is to literally show how- that just hit me as a great idea.

    2. fredwilson

      Dennis – thanks for stopping by and sharing that info. Its very helpful. I’ll connect to twitter but I’m not suire I want to tweet my checkins. We’ll see. As long as its opt-in, it seems like a no brainer to connect.Also, can I checkin via sms?

      1. Dennis Crowley

        Same here – I only tweet about 20% of my checkins, but having the option is definitely nice.And, yes, you can also check-in via SMS. Just text “@ Cooper Square Hotel” to 50500

        1. fredwilson

          i am gonna check in via sms from now on. that’s sweet!

          1. dens

            You can also check-in with some contextual info (what we call a “shout”):e.g. @ Cooper Square Hotel ! view form roof deck is amazing… which, if you have your foursquare linked to Twitter, will also do this for you…

          2. fredwilson

            Oh hell yeah! I love sms. Its fast and its easy. And its command line for us old guys who know what that means 🙂

          3. fredwilson

            Oh hell yeah! I love sms. Its fast and its easy. And its command line for us old guys who know what that means 🙂

      2. kenberger

        Exactly. There’s a lot of apprehension to muddy up one’s twitter stream. I only tweet a select few of my checkins. Eg: when I travel, I usually want to announce to folks that I’m on the move, makes for great spontaneous meetups. I now let Foursquare initiate that place-based tweet. You can also customize each message that goes out to give it context.

        1. fredwilson

          I wish more people had the “apprehension about muddying their twitter stream”. That’s what my informing/spamming post was all about

  8. álvaro ortiz

    I can´t play, my city (Madrid, Spain) is not on the list 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      I hope that changes. Imagine if four square’s api allowed people to peer produce new cities to play in

      1. Jan Schultink

        Same issue for Tel Aviv….”Peer producing” would also open the game up to slightly “off” locations with a very high density of (potential) players (remote university campuses, etc.)

  9. Sekou Murphy

    It’s always interesting to me how many services exist that allow people to put as much personal information in the public domain as they want…some of it embarrassingly personal. As long they’re in control of the access (in some cases) and the kind of info, it’s cool.

  10. ilan peer

    i’m willing to help translate and localize four square service to hebrew 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      I love it. I just suggested this idea in another comment

    2. ShanaC

      If you can get permission- I ‘m willin to bet you can get funding as pre and post aliya prep from groups like Nefesh b’nefesh as a way of keeping in touch with the US and UK and as a way of familiarizing oneself with hebrew and getting around sociability. They are desperate since most aliyot fail, and Anglos are considered profitable, in terms of GDP.You’ll probably even be able to get people to work with you in these groups both stateside and in ISrael while adjusting, if you can get the gov’t to give you the money to pilot.

      1. ilan peer

        tnx for the tip, Shana

        1. ShanaC

          B’vakasha My hebrew may have gone because I have no one or close to no one to talk to in it Stateside- but that doesn’t mean I can’t id how that can’t be changed.

    3. Jan Schultink

      Not too fast, what about English speakers in Tel Aviv 🙂

      1. ShanaC

        Next time I am in Tel Avi- if you can find me non-Macabee beer, we shall play foursquare, me in hebrew to improve and you in English- Kapish?

  11. t_armstrong

    Please keep us updated on the Blackberry App. I just signed up for the beta so we’ll see. Charlie’s post is also what pushed me over the edge. Now I just need to get some of my friends/colleagues to sign up.

  12. kenberger

    I hadn’t treated Foursquare as a game, simply a place where I can:1. keep track of places I like (Delicious or Stumble Upon for the physical world)2. discover places by learning from friends3. Twitter shout where I am (occasionally)But I am also finding Foursquare to serve as a great “real-time app”, much as Twitter has become the fastest source of what’s going on *now*. The ‘game’ to me is that whenever I stumble upon a place I like that just opened, I’ll of habit whip out my phone and try to check in, expecting that I’ll also have to add the place as a new entry. I’m then amazed by how often someone else has already listed and rated it (which shows an excellent usage density, even though the service is so young). For this reason, and due to the easy interface, It’s also incredibly useful if a place has closed or moved– something that is a huge achille’s heel with urbanspoon and even Yelp.I think Dennis is da man to pull this off. He seems to have a formidable plan of features ahead– we really haven’t seen anything yet. I would love to see him a second time pull off a “lifestyle business” (a la Josh:…, but capital may be key.

    1. fredwilson

      Great comment ken. Insightful as always. Thanks!!

  13. daveknipp

    I agree that there is value in a place someone was an hour ago, but what if you could apply the same concept in real time with others in the restaurant?

    1. fredwilson

      Even better. Of course if everyone was playing foursquare, you’d get that

  14. Beau Giles

    Ugh. As someone who doesn’t play (nor wants to play) Foursquare I’m already looking for twitter clients that can filter out Foursquare updates. For some people their twitter streams turn into an endless loop of “I’m at (place) with (people)”, which makes their twitter less useful for me.

  15. Joe Lazarus

    It would be interesting if FourSquare added some features that encouraged merchants to compete with each other for customers. The current game dynamics aren’t all that interesting to me in that competing with friends over how frequently I go out isn’t particularly fun to me, but the idea of merchants competing for my business and offering me game “prizes” is compelling.There’s a restaurant in my neighborhood in SF called Luna Park that uses Twitter to send out fun promotions ( I went one night when they offered 50% off for anyone with a mustache. There must have been 20-30 people there with fake mustaches (some pics: It was a lot of fun and I got a tasty, discounted meal out of it. Luna Park, in turn, received viral marketing. I posted a link to their Twitter and invited a few friends to dinner. FourSquare should encourage merchants to offer these types of promotional offers as prizes in their game (ex. first 10 people to check-in at my bar Tuesday night get a free beer). Then it’s not just a game of bragging rights, but one with tangible rewards. Of course, they probably need to reach a certain scale before it takes off, but perhaps they could jump start things by partnering with a few national chains like Starbucks.

    1. ceonyc

      Bingo. I smell a biz model.I’d like 1 out of every 10 checkins to Jamba Juice to randomly bring up a coupon for a free smoothie. (While supplies last…)

    2. Dennis Crowley

      @Joe, we’ve been talking to folks about doing this – everyone from national chains to random neighborhood bars. We’ve already seen some interesting guerrilla uses of the foursquare “mayor” concept by local merchants – the place in Denver that gives a free burrito, a bar in LA that will buy your first round of drinks, Gowanus Yacht Club in Brooklyn has the name of the “current foursquare mayor” written in a blackboard behind the bar (!!) – so we’ve been working on some tools for local merchants that will help them use foursquare reward loyal customers Lots of interesting stuff love the “compete for business” ideas… why just score the players where you can also score the destinations. Adding to my laundry list of things to think about. 🙂

      1. e.p.c.

        Was thinking today that you should talk to Danoo, which seems to be popping up LCD displays in a lot of the delis and casual restaurants in the area.

      2. markslater

        its real-time contextual auctioning by the SMB that is triggered against a user taking action. i text eat to XXXXXXservice responds with “deals” against my social exhaust, geolocated (from foursquare?)i respond, service texts SMB for reservation and bills said SMB for such service. this is one of hundreds of realtime acution tools an SMB can use to ‘fill the book’

      3. elaineellis

        Dennis – It’s french fries we give away in Denver (technically Boulder)! Not burritos!… Actually, Fred it was from the same place that Brad Feld was a guest chef and did the video you Tweeted awhile back.I see Foursquare as the modern day loyalty card. I don’t want to bring a punch card, and I don’t want to give you my phone number even for loyalty. Plus, it makes it all the sweeter to steal away mayorship if I’m getting free drinks for it. Marketers always want to reach early adopters, and this is one of the best chances companies have that I’ve seen in awhile. I wish more Boulder/Denver venues would use it, especially if they’re already using Twitter.

        1. fredwilson

          Spud Brothers is at the forefront of this stuff. That’s great to see.

        2. David Noël

          “Modern day loyalty card” – love that.

          1. fredwilson

            Me too

          2. David Noël

            Just spent some quality time over lunch & coffee with Taylor Davidson and we also talked about Foursquare. I just started a crowdsourced list for Berlin locations (close to 60 now since last night) and how we could engage not only users to play but also locations right from the start with some kind of rewards. Taylor suggested Foursquare should make it easy and cheap for locations to access the data around their loyal customers in order to become proactive towards mayors and regulars. So excited to see where this is headed and more excited to get this rolling in Berlin. City has a great potential for that game.

          3. fredwilson

            Just forwarded this comment to dennis. I’d love to see berlin get foursquare

          4. David Noël

            Yes, we’re on it with the folks who did the Amsterdam version. They just moved to Berlin and Edial has been in touch with Dennis, I haven’t yet.How about that: two Dutchies and a Belgian kickstart Foursquare in Germany. I love the internet.

    3. fredwilson

      i was going to say “i smell a business model” but charlie beat me to it, like he beats to me most interesting things

    4. markslater

      Joe – bang on – this is it. its real-time auctioning of services. Its absolutely huge for the SMB

  16. jakemintz

    Thanks, this is a great (and timely) post. I am in research mode for the “power of game play to encourage users to engage more frequently with a service.” Do you (or any other commentors) have other good examples of this besides simple things like the follower count on Twitter?

    1. fredwilson

      Tumblarity in tumblr. Although mine is sub 200 right now and I’m frustrated

      1. jakemintz

        Tumblarity is the most interesting example I have seen so far. My tumblarity finally rose from 3 to 6 when I started posting music again!

        1. fredwilson

          I’ll start reblogging your music jake to help get your tumblarity moving!

  17. lawrence coburn

    Here’s another fun Foursquare idea (via Partner with those folks who distribute the video screens in bars and coffee shops, so the merchant can display a smiling pic of the mayor of each establishment.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s a good one

  18. markslater

    finally! they are on the right track.I am not sure how sustainable for the mainstream a game is however. I still want a service that will implicitly assist me when i want to take an action, by bringing the SMB in to my decision making in real-time. the data constructs that provide this intelligence can come from things like foursquare and other services, but the tip of the spear should be real-time contextual value to what it is i am looking for.

  19. jpmarcum

    Coupla thoughts:1. Quick observation; Charlie’s original Foursquare post saw seven comments, Alley Insider’s repost 11 comments and AVC’s take + excerpt 54 (and counting) comments. Would be interesting to see PV v comment #s for the three and figure out who’s curating the most engaged community…2. Badging/prestige/leveling/loyalty programs work and it’s kinda amazing that they’re not part of every online community. While some might think they’re childish I certainly see a lot of business travelers who aren’t shy about using their AA Executive Platinum luggage tags. As everyone under the age of 45 has grown up playing video games the FS system doesn’t even need an introduction, just frequent refreshing (which shouldn’t be that hard). And, let’s face it, nightlife/dining in NY (and other towns presumably) has been a prestige game all along, just perhaps a little less nerdy.

    1. fredwilson

      Great comment paul (both parts).I’ll bet that Charlie will win the contest you suggest. Its possible that I could win. I am certain Alley Insider will lose

  20. ShanaC

    Had a party- and a review-…

  21. TedC

    We’re working on a point/locational/semantic agent based system exactly like this. The key is getting the affiliate network going.

  22. David Harper

    @fredwilson. You’re not alone wanting that Blackberry App. Here is the PercentMobile Report for Foursquare’s mobile web UI:

  23. Tobias Peggs

    huh, i remember reading your post “i know i’m late to twitter, but i started using it this weekend” after a lot of people started using it at that year’s SXSW. And now… Does history repeat?

    1. fredwilson

      Not sure. I’ll let you know

  24. jimmycayne

    this is the gayest fucking thing since twitter. all of you get a life and actually do something that you don’t have to blog/tweet/verify/play/badge/post etc to short. be original and stop fucking playing with your mobile device… seriously. at least bankers get laid and have decent drugs, you people suck.