The king and queen of location-based services

The King and Queen of location based services

Dennis Crowley, co-founder of Foursquare, and Alexa Andrzejewski, founder of Foodspotting, are the hottest people in location-based services. Foursquare has a million users. Foodspotting has 100,000. Both are growing very quickly and getting lots of attention. I sit down with them at the Big Omaha conference and talk with them about the location-based service business.

In the interview Dennis tells us how Tokyo is about to become the #1 city, overtaking New York. He also tells us what he sees the future of Foursquare and location-based services are, which include maleable social graphs, which means it’ll show us tips from people who are like us. We talked about what he’s learned by running one of the hottest startups in the world and why he’s turned down deals to acquire Foursquare (it’s been rumored he turned down a $150 million offer from Yahoo).

He also talked to me about what he learned from running Dodgeball, an earlier location-based service that was acquired, and killed, by Google.

Alexa talks about the ups and downs of entrepreneurship, including how she deals with competitors like Fiddme, which I got excited by when I visited Tel Aviv.

Why are these two companies top in the location-based service field? Because users have adopted them faster than other services. It’s interesting to talk with both of these leaders, especially to hear their insights on growing their companies and what they are thinking of when it comes to acquiring companies to grow their teams. Thanks to Alexa and Dens for sitting down with me at the Big Omaha conference, which is the best entrepreneur conference I’ve attended lately.

Oh, and sorry for the tweeting birds in the background, it was like Twitter was there to cause noise, but when you get a chance to sit down with two industry leaders you gotta just turn on the camera and go with it.

UPDATE: Techcrunch’s MG Siegler also talked with Dennis on Friday and he got out of Dennis that he’s very confident in the upcoming fight with Facebook over location-based services. That’s an interesting interview to read too.

You can join me on Foursquare at and I’m now on Foodspotting and its competitor, Fiddme as well.


15 thoughts on “The king and queen of location-based services

  1. Althought a great article, these good people are not leaders. Before we can be so gushing, they need to have created value, sold their business and repeated that a number of times. WHat they have created is market noise and managed to get a crowd to believe in them and follow them. Can they get those followers to jump over the cliff with them and create a revenue stream, that will start making them leaders.


  2. I guess you missed that Dennis has sold companies in the past. And both of these companies have already created value. Their users love them, that alone is valuable. Plus, Foursquare has lots of revenue coming in and now is making deals with tons of big companies and media properties like NBC and Bravo, among others.


  3. I think these new location services are great, however I am really annoyed by the way some people in my social networks are using them non-stop, flooding my stream with “I'm at” check-ins. You really start to see who has an overinflated sense of self-importance, as if anyone really cares to follow someone's every footstep. I hope this “check-in mania” doesn't continue to spiral out of control.


  4. We need more noise control, yes, but I really don't mind these check ins. I love seeing where people check in and often learn about new restaurants and places this way from them.


  5. Foursquare should really educate their customers on check-in etiquette. Like Robert said, I don't really need to know that you get home, or buy groceries at QFC. However, interesting places or good restaurants with some nice comments are welcome. And for godsake, don't push your stream everywhere else to linkedin, faecbook, twitter, use them individually for what they are designed for. I am still not convinced what value do these location base service bring to customers, other than reviews.


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  7. While I've not used Foodspotting yet (I'm learning to be patient as an Android user) the service is exactly what I've been wanting as a consumer…. the example I always use is “Where is the best egg salad sandwich in this neighborhood?” I wonder whether Google or Yelp could answer that without revamping its search format. As a Foursquare user, I'm not getting as much of a consumer benefit collecting badges or being dubbed Mayor, but as more and more retailers figure out how to use it to reward loyalty and build traffic, the consumer benefits should increase. I also think that both have great potential being that they are opt-in platforms. I look forward to following the evolution of these services.


  8. Yeah, sorry about that noise. We walked around a bit trying to find the quietest spot, but there wasn't a good place and I just decided to do it rather than lose the opportunity to do this.


  9. wow. Hope I will see both in this year in Japan with Japanese version. People here really like to do these things. Great Interview!!


  10. Hoping to hear your thoughts: I liked the hint @dens gave in your interview about ranking user sophistication via checkin data. Your sushi example was great – If someone is looking for the freshest or more exotic fish they may not like “Americanized” sushi (or the dive bar vs. wine bar comparison as Dennis put it).@foursquare via their checkin history data (including tags, others checked in etc) will begin to give more personalized recommendations. There may be some privacy concerns like we saw with Facebooks “Instant Personalization” feature which most people still don't really understand.The most exciting quote was Dennis': “You'll see a lot more of that stuff coming I guess in coming months…” – I transcribed as best a possible.


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