A Couple Foursquare Anecdotes

I was having breakfast at Pastis with a friend today. The "mayor" of that restaurant, Mark Ghuneim, walks in and goes to the bar to order his morning coffee to go. I said to my friend, "watch this, he's going to pull out his phone and then look up and and try to locate me in this restaurant". My friend, who is not on foursquare, says to me "how do you know?" I said "trust me". Sure enough, Mark starts looking around the restaurant and spots us and comes over and has a ten minute conversation about web music stuff (and foursquare).

When I checked in this morning at Pastis, I added a shout that said "getting a demo of a hot new web music service". The CEO of Targetspot, Eyal Goldwerger, saw that on his phone and jumped in a subway to come down and see the demo too. Sadly, we had left by the time he got there.

But both anecdotes are examples of why foursquare has such potential. It seems like such a simple and whimsical service. You just checkin to places via your phone. But the data that it creates and the way it is published out to your social graph is powerful. I expect we'll see a lot more of this sort of thing as the user base on foursquare hits six figures and hopefully seven figures in the coming months.

Disclosure: Foursquare is a Union Square Ventures portfolio company.

#VC & Technology

Comments (Archived):

  1. Ben Werdmuller von Elgg

    It’s a very clever service – but they really need to increase their city coverage. I spend most of my time in places it doesn’t cover, but would love to use it.Maybe they could use some kind of community effort to add places in new cities?

    1. Pamela Parker

      Ben, they are already using their community to add places in new cities. See what they did in Vancouver: http://bit.ly/ZyDtJ

      1. Ben Werdmuller von Elgg

        Cool! Although it still looks like they’re rolling it out to planned cities, rather than letting the community crowdsource beyond those set limits.I’m just being selfish really – I’d like them to roll out in Oxford, where I live, and Edinburgh, where I spend a lot of time visiting.

        1. dens

          Launching cities one by one is helping us scale… we still can’t make it thru a Saturday night without melting.”foursquare everywhere” is the masterplan… just gotta do it in baby steps to be careful. My goal is to be able to check-into my local townie bar in Cow Tip, Massachusetts by Thanskgiving :)-d

  2. tamcdonald

    Haven’t had the f2f encounter happen yet, but have great stories of exposing new places to fellow Foursquare friends. Not only look forward to the user base expanding, but also seeing businesses catch on to how it can help engage with their customers.

  3. thomasknoll

    I’m also anxious to see if more venues will learn how to use the service by adding their own to-do’s and incentivizing mayorship. It would be really interesting if foursquare gave venues a few more tools like a live dashboard that shows checkins and top todo’s for their space. Or the number of checkins for a user “Hey, it looks like it’s your 20th visit, you get a free ______!”

    1. dens

      Digging this idea. And I have a feeling people are going to start building tools / interfaces like this by the truckload once we launch our API.-d

    2. markslater

      i cant think of anything more annoying.the service has to be pull based – if i implicitly ask for something, then a merchant can have the opportunity to respond. not the other way around – just because i make a social gesture (in 4S case checking in) does not mean i want to be marketed to. And i certainly dont want the summ of my social gestures being used to push against me.

    3. fredwilson

      Yes. More stuff for venue owners/operators are needed

  4. Juan Lopez-Valcarcel

    Agree, it is a very promising company changing the way we interact with people and locations.Just started using it in London after having fun with it in NYC, looking forward to more cities being added.For you Fred, it must also feel a bit like the Gawker Stalker alerts.When you announce a check-in you can almost hear the flurry of business plans and pitches being being printed across Manhattan and the rush to meet you wherever you are having a coffee — but so far it sounds like it has all been good 🙂

    1. fredwilson

      i don’t accept most friend requests in foursquare. the only people i accept are people i know and would want to have a meal with. so it’s not a stalker tool in that sense

      1. Ed Kohler

        The value of foursquare starts to degrade once you accept friends outside of your core network. The reciprocal nature of the friending contributes to this. There are people I know well enough to enjoy seeing at a bar if I happen to run into them there, but not well enough to want to follow around town. Assymetrical friending would improve this for me.It’s the kind of service where everyone could use it for the 10-20 people they truly hang out with. A sleeper success due to to a different metric than Twitter for measuring success.

        1. ShanaC

          Certain age groups that tough. In general, people outgrow friends once every 7 years. When you are younger, that’s going to be sooner. I see it with me already. I’ve changed so rapidly in college I’m not sure who I would friend in foursquare.

        2. fredwilson

          I’m not sure I get your point but I am sure its an important one. I don’t let people who I don’t know follow me in foursquare but I have over 30k of them following me on twitterAre you suggesting I should let all of them follow me in foursquare?

          1. Ed Kohler

            Fred, because Twitter allows following without following back, you can grow an infinite number of followers without losing value on the follow side (reading interesting content from people you find most interesting). Foursquare requires reciprocal following, so I have to follow someone back in order to let them follow me. There may be people I’m comfortable with having follow me that I’d like to see if they showed up at a coffee shop or bar I was hanging out at, but I’m not particularly interested in seeing all of their check-ins in my recent check-ins view on my HTC Hero.This isn’t necessarily a problem. It’s just a different approach to following. I doubt you’d find foursquare usable if you added everyone who follows you on Twitter. While you may enjoy meeting some of your followers in person, the service would become unusable for connecting with your core real-world network.But, as I see it, this makes it a service where the average node will be quite smaller than, say, Twitter. Everyone could use it and find it valuable with personal networks of, say, 20 friends compared to 200 on Twitter.From a venue’s perspective, if the service helps people figure out what places are popular among my friends, that’s awesome. If it has the ability to show me what’s popular among the Foursquare community, that’s cool too. The Android app does a bit of this through highlighting nearby favorites and color coding popular check ins (slightly different implementation than the iPhone app).@Charlie, Facebok has an interesting compromise on the friending scene since you can friend someone while hiding their updates.@ShanaC, core groups of friends definitely change. I’m 35, so I see a lot of this based around relocations, job responsibilities and new parents. On foursquare, so of this leads to people going dormant on check-ins but living vicariously through the DINKs.

          2. fredwilson

            Ed – it seems that you are arguing for a friending model like my kids use on facebook where they friend a lot of people but most go into a group where they don’t see most of the updates (I forget what that is called and I don’t use it myself)I’m sure dennis and the team have thought a lot about this issue. Its very important stuff

          3. Ed Kohler

            I don’t know if it would make the service more valuable or not. With or without it, everyone (and I mean everyone) could use the service in a way that’s valuable to them without running into noise issues if they limit their network of friends to their core networks.

      2. ShanaC

        Actually- That’s a needed. This is a situation that could be reife with too much social media pollution, and it is in person and in real time. You need to have posted foursquare etiquette, especially if there are people you know who are going to use this in bars who may go overboard. o_0

  5. Farhan Lalji

    Planned serendipity ftw

  6. ErikSchwartz

    Foursquare is way more fun when I’m in NYC or the Bay Area. Up here in Maine (which foursquare considers part of Boston) there are far fewer users and the product is much less interesting. I also recently drove cross country checking in as I went. I’m not sure what it is yet, but there is potential for the roadtripper with this product (also the long haul trucker). The biggest challenge in the XC drive was the lack of data service in vast swaths of the US.

  7. Greg

    I don’t think Foursquare is going to grow. Fred, your position is unique — you’re a micro-celebrity, people want to see you because they want to grovel for your money. The average person, though, has only 10-20 friends, and random people aren’t checking to see them at all hours of the day. Checking in, then, quickly becomes a lonely and pointless experience; the virtual badges get old fast, there are no great anecdotes of people visiting you, and the deals businesses offer for mayors are sparse and easily gamed.Foursquare is a case-study in the tech industry hype-machine. Because it’s useful for micro-celebrities, you have exactly those people hyping it up: MG Siegler, yourself, etc.

    1. fredwilson

      it is a valid criticism, but my kids love it and they are not micro celebs.

      1. markslater

        its actually a good idea but IMO running down the wrong path. Its still caught in the status mouse wheel and needs to get off and get on the action wheel. location based status is faddish. Location based action is not. I’ve said this for some time now – get the millions of small businesses to participate in your actions and you have the greatest single real-time micro market ever built.

        1. Dave Pinsen

          You mean something like a person checking in on a service such as Foursquare and then getting a coupon offer from a nearby business in real time? E.g., you check in at a pizza place and then an ice cream place down the street offers you 20% off a cone if you stop by within the next hour?

          1. fredwilson

            That happens already in foursquareIts happened to me a bunch of times

          2. topgold

            Tweeting about NYC pizza in Manhattan got me a price deal too.

        2. dens

          Slightly disagree: foursquare checkins are not just “status”, each checkin is creating structured geodata on the way our users move thru cities. Mining this data let’s us write queries that suggest what coffee shops I should check out when I fly from NYC -> SF and what restaurants my friends frequent for the next time I visit Boston. Stay tuned :)-d

          1. ShanaC

            Thank god for that! I was one of the first non-SWSX users. I’m finding the only place I can check into on a day to day basis is my favorite coffee shop. I don’t really go anywhere outside of campus, and campus is kinda err, urban tiny.

          2. petekazanjy

            Exactly. This is what I was hoping for from Dodgeball, but in the pre-iPhone era, just really tough to get folks to a. surface the data, b. have data-services that could pull in the structured location and venue info. DPrediction: Yelp / CitySearch buys FourSquare, because FS is structuring the really valuable data: what *I* like. If Yelp had it together, they’d steal a product manager from Netflix’s personalization group, and get in the business of pulling my taste out of me, and then selling that info to local businesses. Right now, they have *no idea* which restuarants I browse, and which I ultimately go to.But guess who does know this? FourSquare does…Looking forward to the features, Dennis.Here’s a feature request for you: Facebook connect of my FS checkins plz. You have friend-finding, but don’t push my updates to my profile. Would very much likey that.

          3. markslater

            this is being worked on by a group i am associated with.

          4. markslater

            this is far too a roundabout way to do this, and there is no implicit or direct incentive to bring a small business (coffee shop) in to the network.

          5. kidmercury

            ouch. good point.

          6. petekazanjy

            Roundabout? Dennis seems to be describing one use case, one way to cut this data.Also, the coffee shop doesn’t need an incentive to be brought into the network; the users add it. I suppose you mean they have no incentive to becoming a paying member / active member of the network (e.g., in Yelp-land “claiming” your venue).On the coffee shop part, that might be tough. What’s an incremental customer worth to you as a coffee shop owner? $2 transaction? $1 in margin. That’s tougher.What’s an incremental table worth to a small thai restaurant? $30-40? OK, now we’re talking real CPAs. Just ask OpenTable. A small taqueria? $10? OK, getting tougher. Still, FourSquare is aggregating targeted demand in a way that few others have (OpenTable being an exception, and Yelp doing a not-great job at it (imho – based on them serving me ads for a pizza parlor in the Marina, when I search for Thai food in the Mission…))I can imagine what this conversation looks like between the product marketer / sales staff:FS: “Hi there, small/medium/large restauranteur. Did you know that there are [some large integer X] of people who “check in” in your area [cross-streets and within 1/2 mile] at a lunch or dinner establishment, every day? Did you know that [some smaller, but still large, integer Y] of those people have frequented one or more [the cuisine of the prospect’s restaurant] restaurants recently?”Business owner: “You mean there are around [Y] people who like [cuisine of my restaurant] and are near my business every day?”FS: Absolutely. So, may I ask you, if you had your choice, how many extra tables would you like to serve during your lunch hour and dinner service period? How many of those [Y] people could you seat?Business owner: Well, with my current number of tables, I could probably serve an extra 10 or 15 tops.FS: Interesting. And based on looking at your menu [of course, this could be done programmatically with an ROI calculator for the small business], 10 extra tables is probably an extra $300 in revenue, which nets out to around $150 in margin, per day? [Given that your rent, wait staff, equipment are fixed costs, and likely only raw materials scale with incremental tables.]Business owner: Yeah, that sounds about right.FS: Wonderful. Well, with our product FourSquareFooBar, we think that we can provide you with those extra 10 tables per day, at a cost of $2 each. $20 gets you $100.Business owner: That’s awesome. Sign me up.FS: No problem. You can sign up yourself online or on your FourSquareFooBar application on iphone/blackberry/android phone, and let us know what kind of food you serve, if you’re running any deals for FourSquare users (we recommend a free appetizer that costs you probably $1 in raw materials), and what you’re willing to pay for an incremental table top.Business owner: Thank you FourSquare, you’re just what I’ve needed!I look forward to this scenario playing out in my neighborhood in the coming 18 months… ; )

          7. topgold

            There’s a coffee shop in the heart of Dublin’s (Ireland) that is doing more footfall with regular tweets about barista chat and sandwich offers. Owner knows to tweet 30 minutes before mid-morning, lunchtime and afternoon break times. Gets results.

      2. NICCAI

        I’m mixed. I like the overall idea, but it is failing in exactly the spot that twitter excels – “real friends” versus “web friends.” On twitter, I can easily follow and enjoy anyone that has some similar interest – like tech. On four square, you really need to be friends with the person to have a “real” interest. I would love for more of my “real” friends to be on four square, but even twitter is a rarity. The problem with four square is it is not individual – I can’t benefit from it as much without others (read: my real world friends) joining. Twitter is more easily digested by the individual, and it doesn’t rely on a high correlation between real friends and web friends.That said, I could see the teen segment growing easier.

        1. fredwilson

          Its the same problem facebook had. You need real friends on this system

          1. NICCAI

            I think the value proposition for Facebook is better understood to the enduser. I don’t doubt there is potential for Foursquare, because I thinkthey’ve cracked a valuable mobile segment. I’m just not sure whether themasses can wrap their heads around it right now. “I’m here or I’m doing”was the question twitter tried to answer, but it isn’t what made itsuccessful – it’s an animal far different than its intent. Foursquare needsto uncover that mystery angle.One other thing that Facebook has that Foursquare is going to have a hardtime tapping into – your past. Although Facebook lets me see what’s newwith my past and present friends, foursquare’s relevance is really limitedto your current friends (and probably a subset at best). It’s thedifference between fishing with a rod and fishing with a net.

    2. Aaron

      I disagree. I am definitely not a micro celeb and find it useful. Last night a friend of mine checked in at the wine bar down the street from me and mentioned via foursquare he was with someone else I had been wanting to meet. I walked on over and made a new friend and maybe a valuable business connection.

    3. Dave Pinsen

      Wouldn’t this same argument apply to Twitter and other social media? I’ve wondered about this myself. I can understand why an aspiring tech entrepreneur, for example, might want to follow Fred on Twitter, or why a political junkie might want to follow a certain politician on it, or a fan follow a certain celebrity, but who wants to follow an average Joe?What’s the point of someone like me tweeting? Who would I tweet this blog post to, for example? If I tweeted it to someone who also reads Fred’s blog, that would be pointless, because they would have already seen it. And if I tweeted it to someone who doesn’t read Fred’s blog, chances are they wouldn’t be interested in this type of blog post; after all, if they were they would be reading Fred’s blog already. I wondered elsewhere a while ago whether social media might be the next public access TV.

    4. Guest

      I disagree with Greg, I’ve had similar anecdotes using Facebook before Dball. I was having breakfast with the family at a well known diner in Northport almost a year ago, took a picture of my hot chocolate, posted it with my status on FB, and a friend with an office around the corner stopped by the diner to say hi. I’m not even a femto-celebrity. With all due respect, the worst kept secret is that Foursquare is Dodgeball redux, where the technology has matured, the market for the service is more receptive and the lock on the “mobile deck” has been smashed by the iPhone/ATT seismic event. All lowered the bar for app adoption. You don’t need to be a celebrity, micro or otherwise, you just need to be part of a community. See “Here Comes Everybody” by Shirky, and you will get it. Deals are always sparse at the beginning, and I’m looking forward to see how 4SQ evolves.

      1. ShanaC

        It still has an upward curve, I need to get some friends I actually talk to on a day to day basis to use it- but I know where we all are anyway (The Library)

      2. fredwilson

        Facebook is real time after all!

    5. petekazanjy

      I will call BS on this. I have had all kinds of seredipitous Foursquare interactions. Yes, I live in San Francisco, where geographic density helps, but there is a broader application too. Note, I only have 10 FourSquare friends, for scale consideration.1. Getting haircut in San Mateo, and my friend, whose office is four blocks away, sees my checkin, and walks by to say hi on his way to coffee.2. Another friend checks in at a restaurant I like in Financial District, and I text him to tell him to try a specific dish, and see how he likes it. (FS empowers this by providing a call to action to “text” the person who checks in, either calling the mobile number from the FS service, or your local address book–not sure which.3. A former colleague from VMware Fusion team checks in at a coffee shop a couple blocks away from me. I text him, and find out that he just moved to my neighborhood in SF. We schedule a beer meetup for later.Greg, your criticism neglects that checking in has value outside of its broadcast of your position to your friends, and winning virtual badges: you’re creating a timeline for yourself. Foursquare doesn’t message this, but there’s nontrivial value here too.Delicious was the first major example of this: exposing, publicly, information that I capture down for my private use. FS does this in reverse, creating a helpful private data pool for me in the process of publicly sharing my whereabouts.I’m bullish on FS, in that it’s something that people already do with Twitter and Facebook, and FS just makes it damn easy, by pulling in meta-data of locations, and making it fun.

      1. ShanaC

        Oh and it is a marketer’s dream. Now imagine being able to granularly slice someone and give that guy his perfect coupon.

  8. Tariq

    Using a service like this at a noisy venue like SXSW/ACL would be pretty sweet. It’s a situation where a normal phone call is less than ideal because of the noise but that you don’t want to send out a mass text… Being able to see if any of your choice friends are there can then lead you to make contact and meet up. Pretty good method for finding friends in a noisy crowd!

  9. Chris Hamoen

    I’m not sure what to make of foursquare yet. This sounds like a vertical application of Latitude. However, just because someone else has it, doesn’t mean they can’t make anything out of it. We’ll see in the execution.

  10. falicon

    One of the bits of your story, “Sadly, we had left by the time he got there.” is exactly what I don’t like about foursquare…as cool and interesting as it is, I think they are missing out on a huge market for “where you are going to be” instead of “where you currently are”…unless I’m within 5 minutes of you, there’s no chance I can do anything with the information about where you currently are (though there is a lot of value in the history of where you have been)…To me the most useful data around the foursquare idea right now is “where your friends have been”…and the question that isn’t being addressed yet is “where are your friends going to be”Disclosure: I’ve been quietly attempting to build http://tym.ly to help answer just that question (it’s got a ways to go, but I think it’s an interesting start and if nothing else the right question to be focusing on).

    1. fredwilson

      that is a very valid critique. and it is also why i try to checkin about 5 mins before i arrive somewhere

  11. AndreaF

    I think the second anecdote is very interesting and with huge potential, especially with the check out feature suggested by mileslennon. A bit scary too if you have some of your friends are friendly ‘stalkers’.

    1. fredwilson

      That’s why I am careful who I friend. I ‘ignore’ about 90pcnt of my friend requests on foursquare but still have a ton of friends on it

  12. kenberger

    When you arrive in a new metro area, 4sq gives you a clean slate, which can be fun.I was in Boston yesterday and started checking in places, syncing it to Twitter. At least 3 Boston FB or Twitter friends saw those and added me on 4sq, and I met up with 2 of them. I can see this being a fun and effective way to keep distant relations fresh, have folks show you around while traveling (although solving the lack of advance notice issue would improve this).

    1. William Carleton

      I’m based in Seattle, and have used foursquare here, in Palo Alto and in LA over the past month; the clean slate is indeed fun. I also like how they entrust you with the pencil icon when you add items to the database that, I guess, check out to be accurate. Could be because I am in newer markets, but it has the feel to me of experimentation and wide open possibility. So far, the UI choices are always right. I think it’s a lot of fun, even though, in my case, no one has “found” me in the physical world this way.

      1. kenberger

        I’ve heard they are reportedly indeed making it so folks can set up new locations and add content to it in more of a UGC/wiki model.I agree that getting found happens way more often via FB comments (because of the interactive threading) and Twitter (via @replies and DM) than through 4sq which lacks those communication channels. But give ’em a break– it’s such early days and they now have some funding and long functionality wishlists to work through!

    2. fredwilson

      I think the foursquare/twitter integration has a lot of possibilites but at this point can often be spam. I don’t use it but would if my updates only went to people who want to see my foursquare updates. The geotagging aspects are also interesting

  13. LIAD

    I have read extensively about game-mechanics/social play and the like for my own business, a 3 year old social gaming platform based out of the UK. As such I completely get the rationale behind embedding game mechanics into the FourSquare offering – it increases engagement, retention and other KPI’s as well as hooking into virality streams and more. I worry though that the utility aspects of FourSquare (which can be huge) will be tarred by the overt badge collection and youthful branding and design. Game mechanics and their initial target market are obviously good accelerants, but I think they’re going to need to focus on the utility side of things in the near future to take it past the initial hype and into what can be a really valuable service for a truly huge potential market.(twitter could have easily added on game mechanics in the early days (badges for hitting follower/following numbers, total tweets per day etc – all of which would have given them an early boost in traction and retention – they chose not to concentrate on these “gimmicks” and to build out their core offering – namely real utility. I would advise the Foursquare team to do the same.

    1. dens

      100% agree with you on the “game-fatigue” thing. We’ve stayed away from the low-hanging fruit badges tied to adding and inviting friends as we want the badges to be about things you do in the real world (e.g. karaoke! live music! museums!) not things you do online.-d

  14. hypermark

    Maybe I’m in the minority, but my obsession with foursquare is less about the lookup/hookup and more about the check-in, points and leaderboard aspects. In other words, it’s the combo of Maven and Recognition System that FS satisfies for me.That said, I get frustrated by the system’s not allotting points outside of dinner hours, and a seeming cap on the number of checkins that you get points credit for. All of this may be structural counters to “gaming the system,” but it waters down the goodness of FS as a recognition system for Maven types (ala Yelp).

  15. Rob K

    I wish I could try it. I have had problems signing up for weeks and sadly, no one at Foursquare seems to respond to help requests.

    1. dens

      Hey Rob K, swamped with customer service requests, but hit me up on Twitter (@dens) and we’ll get this fixed!

    2. fredwilson

      Problems signing up on the web?

      1. Rob K

        Dennis (@dens) hooked me up today, so I can try it out.

        1. fredwilson


  16. jaredhecht

    Greg, I think you overlook the fact that Foursquare is, at its core, intended to help you discover and engage with your city. Everything else you mentioned is a byproduct of this mission. Like most (social) web services, once it moves past its early adopter stage I think we’ll see engagement with people who aren’t “celebrities” or “micro-celebrities.” I have less than 20 friends on Foursquare, nor am I a micro-celebrity, but I’m still an avid user. I’m using it to discover NYC and sure enough the rest is falling into place – I had my first F2F encounter last week

  17. saraholoubek

    Very meta feeling to also see this play out from the back area of pastis this am.

    1. fredwilson

      Oh yeah? So its really three anecdotes

      1. saraholoubek

        indeed it was. Possibly more…if we knew who else were in the room.

  18. maverickny

    I tried Foursquare for a few months, but found several things about it that were frustrating.1. Very few of my friends are on it and those that are, are in different cities so I don’t see them unless we are in the same town2. Spent most of my time adding places (on the NJ side of the Hudson) or it put me in places of the same name in a different location3. It crashes a lot, so gave up wasting timeUltimately, I really wanted useful recommendations within walking distance of where I was, thus the UrbanSpoon and Yelp iPhone apps were more useful and less boring.

  19. joemedved

    I’ve enjoyed foursquare’s gaming elements and the ability to track my friends’ local travels. My first foursquarup last week sealed my addiction.I was in NY for the day from Boston. I had a meeting in midtown that was delayed an hour. I noticed a friend checked into the area an hour prior, and I was able to connect for coffee.Such meetings will be rare, but it’s just another element that makes foursquare so appealing.

  20. Dan Conway

    Foursquare could benefit from a ‘how to’ video on their site – I’ve had a difficult time explaining it to people here in Los Angeles. I recently made a suggestion list re: Foursquare on Bijan’s blog – it’s on my Disqus so I won’t repeat it here but fascinated to see how it evolves – so undefined in its present shape it could morph into almost anything. More than what is it now, what could this turn out to be? See it being so much more than social. Agree on it being powerful and valuable to your social graph but the real value and benefit seems to be outside of social in that It’ll graph behavior and target who we are as consumers. Lots of valuable information there.I see it being akin to Dun and Bradstreet within the social network.So the company might want to create two ‘how to’ videos. One for users. And another for businesses.

    1. dens

      Great idea with the videos Dan – both of these are on the whiteboard.-d

  21. Roman Giverts

    I think it’s the same as twitter, it’s only interesting if the right people use it. My problem is, none of my friends or even acquaintances use it, so it’s completely useless to me.Had a similar problem with Twitter for a while, but at least on twitter you can follow “celebrities” which can be somewhat entertaining. Problem with foursquare is that I dont think real celebrities are going to want to “check in” at places. That could be a disaster for them. It’s interesting for Fred and his friends because they all try this type of stuff just for the sake of trying it. I’m just not sure how this will take off for average guys like myself and my friends,I love the simplicity of the concept, but how do you get people to actually use this?

  22. andyswan

    Why not just twitter “I’m going to the saloon if anyone wants to meet me”? Or, when you walk into the saloon, look around and see if anyone you know is there…instead of looking on your phone?I guess I get it in a dense city where you might literally be within walking distance of 100’s of options (and therefore friends)….but for the rest of us it seems….ehhh “possibly neat” for now.BTW, I am mayor of the saloon.

    1. fredwilson

      Structured data andy

      1. andyswan

        Fred you’ll love FIVEsquare: http://andyswan.com/blog/20… Still room in the round :)If I could have invested in foursquare, I would have for the team alone…what else matters? And yes, I hope they go BIG. And I hope it’s useful in cities where you drive to predetermined destinations. Just sayin…there is some value to having your data “cage free” as well.

        1. fredwilson

          that was a very funny post andy. i bet you could get it funded!

  23. JG

    I’m the mayor of 83 different places in NYC and amass a thousand points each week. I have no friends (on FS, that is). Mindless checking in is just something I do to kill time while walking from point A to point B — just trying a bunch of location-based services to see how they differ. Not so interested in finding out where my friends are — if I want to know, I’ll ask. Otherwise, seems like an invasion of privacy (yeah, yeah, I know — millennials have limit personal space).

    1. fredwilson

      I reblogged the first line of this comment on fredwilson.vc

  24. Mihai Badoiu

    Fred, some user feedback: I’ve used Foursquare and I like the overall idea. But it takes so much effort to build another network. I already use facebook, and that sucks up all the time devoted to this kind of activity. What Foursquare should do is create a facebook app or at least connect to the facebook profile and publish the updates.

    1. ShanaC

      because Facebook is so much like crack, I’m starting to turn into a facebook hater. I need a social network thing, that’s for sure, but I need one that is auto-granular and actually helps me get social network stuff done. I can’t “like” forever.

    2. kidmercury

      this is one of my few beefs with foursquare. there are only so many soc nets a person can be a part of. is the foursquare approach good enough? if forced, i’d say no (though i def think it’s possible). i think there is much they could be able to do through APIs and enhancing other soc nets, though, and perhaps that is a great opportunity as well for foursquare.

    3. fredwilson

      I am sure they will do that. Its a good idea

  25. Norbert Mayer-Wittmann

    I don’t pay much attention to brand name websites, so I really have no idea whether this foursquare stuff is anything meaningful. Nowadays, if you have to explain anything to someone, then you’ve already lost (because they’ve already moved on) — it’s for that reason that twitter won and jaiku lost (see http://past.blog.com/gaggle… ).Europe is way ahead in the development of the mobile web. Asia and in some respects even Africa are miles ahead of the United States. I think in Europe it’s the much higher population density, in Africa it’s the lack of any competing infrastructure. In Asia, it’s sort of a combination of both.So I have to agree with the others: lukewarm.

  26. Mike

    FourSquare will eventually grow old and we’ll move on. I can’t see the service working. I’m lazy. I hate checking in. If it was somehow able to automate this fine. I’d also get annoyed if someone was moving around their day quickly and checking in to every place. I can only see this service surviving if it is acquired and merged into twitter (but it still will need some changes to the way it functions).Twitter is useful because it allows you to interact with people you wouldn’t normally be able to interact with plus for businesses it provides real time updates. This does neither. The 5 people that I care to see on a given night have already told me where they are going. I don’t need them to ‘check-in’ and let me know. It’s a gimmick and only people who are interested in stalking others will eventually find this useful once the novelty wears off.That’s my opinion.

  27. kidmercury

    this discussion reminds me so much of the issue of crossing the chasm. the haters in this discussion who don’t think foursquaring can go pop because it is too much work are the mainstream folks who need a different marketing approach than what the early adopters got.

    1. markslater

      or a fundamentally different underlying business logic that augments what we do – rather than reacts to our actions in a way that we don’t necessarily implicitly want.

      1. kidmercury

        agreed. i think it is quite possible foursquare could morph into such a service down the road.

        1. markslater

          not convinced – gaming fatigue on the horizon, too many ways to discover things, no evidence of understanding of action in a real-time micro market sense.

          1. dens

            Ah, just wait till we start building the new stuff. Right now = fixing architecture. Next up = building the discovery tools, enhancing game mechanics, better tools to help more venues get involved. Stay tuned-d

          2. markslater

            if you are in the boston area – would love to catch a coffee

  28. Chris Comela

    A little pumping today, I see 🙂

  29. Steve Poland

    [I posted this whole comment to my blog to start discussion: http://blog.stevepoland.com… ]I haven’t looked at the API, but I see crazy potential of apps being built on-top of FourSquare. The one thing I REALLY WANT [and have for years], is, when I go to a restaurant.. I want to see what everyone that’s ever been there rates as the best dishes; then what my friends rate as the best dishes; then what I’ve had there in the past [I was at a Thai place the other day, where I’ve been a lot, but there’s 100 menu items, literally. I have no clue that last dish I had, which was AMAZING].I detailed this idea out awhile ago — I think someone could make it happen with FourSquare: http://blog.stevepoland.com…I’m in Buffalo, so I haven’t used FourSquare really at all, but I’d also love to see a “wall” for each bar/restaurant, where I could see everyone’s posts [within/at that bar/restaurant], or just my friend’s posts, or just my posts [w/replies of course]. It’d be another way for people to communicate and meet. If the music is way too loud, it could be said. If someone is puking in the 1st stall, it could be said. If a whif of reefer is going on, it could be said. If the blond in the red dress sitting at 7th seat at the bar is hot, it could be said.I have some other ideas that I think could finally take off, if someone built them with FourSquare’s API…This one is in regards to anyone at a sporting event, or concert, or happy hour, could post pics/videos from the event — and since everyone ‘checked in’ to foursquare is at same event, sending in a photo or video should be easy — something would check where you are, then it’d tag it for you without you worrying about it.http://blog.stevepoland.com…Actually, the following post is basically what FourSquare became [feb 2007 I wrote this]:http://blog.stevepoland.com…andhttp://blog.stevepoland.com…[I posted this whole comment to my blog to start discussion: http://blog.stevepoland.com… ]

  30. tonyrobots

    Wow Fred, that’s great. I worked with Mark Ghuneim back in 1995 when he was with Sony Music and I with a little agency called Avalanche on an insanely odd and experimental site called “Mike Watt’s Web World.” He was incredibly forward-thinking then, and it’s good to see he’s still ahead of the curve.

  31. Carl Rahn Griffith

    I wonder how long before some (obsessive) people become so immersed in Social Networking they end up in this scenario:http://www.youtube.com/watc…Caveat: contains some mildly rude language.As some 90% of Twitter noise comes from some 10% of the users, this is a potentially obsessive trait within many people. We already see a number of Twitter users anally ‘reporting’ their every micro-action, no matter how inane. For months, years. It’s puzzling and – frankly – a little disturbing. Sad.This clip is from a TV interview aired several years ago and for those who don’t know him (the guest), Johnny Vegas is a British comedian. The show this extract is from – Room 101 – is where one banishes one’s pet hates/fears.When I saw it live back then, this segment was one of the funniest things I’d seen – the honesty, the surreal parallel universe, the absurdity of it all – little did we know it was a sign of things to come for some Social Networkers and their intense take on the ‘real’ world …

  32. bcarroll1234

    the problem with foursquare is that i’m handing it three incredibly valuable pieces of information: my exact location, the time I’m there, and that I’m in the mood for serendipity to strike. But foursquare only gives me one, mediocre piece of information in reply: which of my few friends on foursquare have checked in recently (which is usually the same few people who I don’t really want to see).What Foursquare should be giving me is *content*! Events happening nearby. reviews from other foursquare users of that same venue. discounts and sales at nearby stores. unique tourist activities or follow-on dessert places I could check-out after dinner.Give me *more*, so that I get more value from having pulled out my phone and helpfully told foursquare those three great details about me.

    1. fredwilson

      Great points and I’m certain this is the roadmap

  33. kskobac

    Random account from this morning. I met with a friend & business associate at Un. Sq. Coffee Shop for breakfast around 8:45. He pulls out his phone to check-in to Foursquare and asks how many people I think in the room are checked in already. I say, well I don’t think it’s big enough yet to have many “also here-” occurrences, but then again it’s a VC hang-out spot so maybe some 4-5 early adopters are in the room. We try our phones, but AT&T data network isn’t working inside, and give up our quest. Then I take a second to look around, and it turns out not 2 feet away @FredWilson is sitting right next to me. It turns out Foursquare wasn’t even necessary, and a late check-in as I was leaving showed me you’re the Mayor of the spot anyway! I would have said hello but didn’t want to interrupt business. Hope breakfast was good!

    1. fredwilson

      you should have interrupted me

  34. Prime Miami Beach

    AMEN!!! I’ve made a few business connections with mayorships alone – figured out people I don’t know frequent the same places I do. It’s fun and it’s useful and announcements during conventions…..doesn’t get better than that

  35. Tim Lawton

    check out the potential of @foursquare, @amandapeyton you’ll respect this…speaking of, I need more #foursquare friends…

  36. fredwilson

    no, that was the first time i saw that behaviour

  37. dens

    I spent two nights in SF last week (Web 2.0 Summit) On both nights we started with a crew of 3-4 people. Everyone checked-in. 2-3 more people showed up. They checked-in. 3-4 more people showed up. And repeat. Each night we went from 3 people around a table to a 25+ person group in a matter of hours. It was nuts.This is different than Fred’s story… it’s not me drawing 20 people, it’s everyone drawing one or two people. And then them drawing 1-2 people each. This is how classic dodgeball used to work back in 2005 (before everyone got girlfriends/wives 🙂 and it was so awesome to see it again in SF.-d

  38. fredwilson

    That was what did him in, I’m afraid

  39. fredwilson

    that is a great suggestion Miles

  40. dens

    Agreed, tho I don’t think we’d want to push out check-out msgs the same way we push check-in msgs (would get real annoying real quick!) and even a check-out button prob wouldn’t solve this issue.We had this problem early on with dodgeball – checkins triggering cross-town cab trips that ended in the person having already moved on. The solution that user’s adopted? Before making a trek for a surprise visit, send a quick “there for a bit?” text. :)-d

  41. Dave Pinsen

    Don’t you need some sort of indication that people are watching to satiate your desire to be conspicuous or exhibitionist? Is there any empirical data on this, i.e., do people with no followers continue tweeting regardless?

  42. ShanaC

    See, the thing is a social game, and as someone young, I don’t see those two desires as different. If I had more techie friends into things like foursquare that would happen anyway. It would definitely happen if it integrated into facebook. (Mind the age gap people)A lot of that has to do with social media pollution- I don’t want everyone to know where I am right now. I wouldn’t mind say as in Moving.com, to float a lot of people by, some close, some not, some into parties, some into galleries, (I have all sorts of different kinds of friends) different plans and then use FourSquare to CheckIN. Maybe they will catch me, maybe I’ll meet new people. Here in Lies the problem. Sometimes I don’t care who shows up. Sometimes I do.

  43. fredwilson

    And then there is search which is even more interesting with the google and microsoft deals

  44. Dave Pinsen

    The prized 12-22 demographic!

  45. ShanaC

    no, My school is that wonderfully dorky. You go to first level basement of the library. They will show up eventually.

  46. fredwilson

    Don’t know

  47. fredwilson

    Why do people with no readers keep blogging?

  48. Chris

    Dennis, How would you do one better than Gowalla’s auto GPS tracker? Gowalla seems to do a better job at tracking checkin activity. Anyone can get by by Foursquare’s ” I was there” checkin.