Google Adweek 2010 - Mediatavern Discussion: Foursquare Unlocked

Uploaded by FastForward on 28.09.2010


JOSH NEWMAN: Well, thank you very much, everybody, for
coming out today, as Matt has so graciously asked.
I'm Josh Newman.
I'm a founder and one of the managing owners of
We're an interactive digital agency, and we have offices in
Norwalk, Connecticut, San Francisco, and Los Angeles.
And that--
wow, that works better.
And we've been helping out with Advertising Week for the
last five years, and it's really been
an honor and a privilege.
And today, we're fortunate enough to be able to welcome
Dennis Crowley co-founder and CEO of foursquare, and Tristan
Walker, director of business development.
And in front of us here, we have just a great audience of
advertisers and agency folks.
And what foursquare really brings to the table that's new
and different from really anything that we've seen
before is the ability to really intimately get to know
their end user and really be able to interact with these
users on really an everyday, on-location kind of basis.
Now, most of you probably have heard of foursquare.
And what we're really excited about is the opportunity for
Dennis and Tristan to talk about foursquare, but also
really how you folks, from a creative standpoint, can
really integrate it into campaigns and make it a
success for you.
What Dennis is going to talk a little bit about is
for those of you who may or may not know-- last week
announced and released their 2.0 version.
So Dennis is going to talk a little bit about
the history of it.
He's going to talk about some of the key features behind it
and touch a little bit on where foursquare is going in
the future.
Tristan is going to talk a little bit about foursquare
2.0 also, but from the perspective of how brands and
businesses really use it.
And also, he's going to give a couple examples and things
from different case studies.
And what we're also really excited about is talking about
and really informing you folks about how foursquare has
really become much more self-service over
the last six months.
And that's really continuing to grow.
An example of a self-service where you don't even need to
really use the foursquare in-house team on a regular
basis is we at Mediatavern are working with Advertising Week
and with EA on an event later this week where there's going
to be a special that you folks would be able to unlock.
If you're one of the first 20 people to show up at the EA
Play To Win session, you'll be able to unlock this special.
And the first 20 people get an EA video game and a T-shirt.
So from that point of view, it's really, really great from
an incentivization process.
So with that said, we're excited about the creative
opportunities and listening to what Dennis and
Tristan have to say.
And finally, we're going to be, at some
point, putting up a--
oh, it is up there now--
the five-digit short code there where you'll be able to,
at any point, text a question or comment.
And through the help of a moderator in the booth behind
us, we'll be able to answer those questions
and things for you.
So without further ado, take it away, Dennis.
DENNIS CROWLEY: Hey, what game do you win?
JOSH NEWMAN: I don't know.

Hi, my name is Dennis Crowley.
I am one of the co-founders and the CEO of foursquare.
And thank you guys for joining today.
Can I ask, are any of you guys on foursquare?
Yeah, all right.
That's awesome.
A year ago, we'd ask these questions, and you'd be like,
does anyone even know what foursquare is?
And you'd get, like, three hands going up.
And then you'd have to show 20 slides and kind of walk people
through the product.
So it makes my job much easier that everyone kind of knows
what foursquare is.
That's great.
And that you guys are checking.
Did anyone check in here?
Well, thanks for all the continued support.
So let me--
I have, like, five minutes.
Let me just click through some of this stuff.
This is easy, because you guys already know
what foursquare does.
We're building products for mobile phones.
We're aiming to make the world a little bit more interesting
to explore.
So people go and they check in to different places.
You get to learn where your friends are.
You can uncover tips about things that
are going on nearby.
One of the things that we're really well known for is this
layer of game mechanics that we've
applied to the real world.
So a lot of the stuff that we were thinking about when we
started foursquare was, how do you turn life into a game?
And how do you turn the city into almost like a game board?
So that's where a lot of the ideas for the points and the
badges and some of the mayorship stuff came from.
It's like, how do we make checking in playful?
And how do you take these utilities that kind of blend
together social interactions and mobile phones and
location-based software and add a lot value to people's
everyday existence?
So we're building things for iPhone.
We've got an Android app, BlackBerry app.
Actually, we just launched a Nokia version as well, which
should be out.
The big thing that we're doing for foursquare 2.0--
does anyone have 2.0?
Did you guys play with it?
Yeah, so we're going to be rolling out features really
for the rest of the year.
But one of the big differences, we broke out was
the tips and to-do list. Before, all these things were
kind of combined together.
You guys probably know, if you check in at restaurants, you
get tips about what you should order, like should you chat
with the bartender?
What's around the corner?
Is there some cool art you should see?
And now what we're trying to to do is break out this to-do
list. We want people to start collecting experiences that
they want to go out and have. So if foursquare was good
before at pushing you to go to new and interesting places,
because you were chasing badges and whatnot, the to-do
list is all about collecting these curated experiences from
other people and from brands and from media folks, so you
can carry them with you in your pocket and hopefully
start exploring the world in different ways.
One of the things that we've started to do is we created
this Active Foursquare button.
And you can see it in a couple of places.
This screenshot on the bottom is where we've
embedded it on our site.
So you put that with your little bit of embed code.
When you embed it, what you embed is that thing you see in
the upper left in the orange box.
Then there are these Active Foursquare buttons.
So we've started to do partnerships with a lot of
blogs and a lot of media companies.
I think there's 10 that we launched with.
Everyone from like, oh, this is the list of the 10 best
burgers to have in Chicago to that's the screenshot from--
you guys know, the real estate blog?
They have Curbed wrapped in here.
So whenever they talk about restaurants, whenever they
talk about sample sales and new shops that are opening up,
there's an Active Foursquare button.
And so if it's something that interests you, you can just
click that button, and it drops it right in your
So the next time that you're out, if you're checking into
places, or if you're checking for nearby tips, you can also
review that to-do list. And it's like, oh, these are all
the interesting things that I wanted to do nearby.
So that's kind of the direction that we're going.
A lot of people associate what we're doing with, oh, you guys
are like a game based on check-ins.
And that's part of the story.
But really, the reason that we started the company was to
make these products that make the city, make the world, make
your neighborhood a little bit easier to explore.
And this is our first push, really, in that direction.
So it'll be interesting to see how this stuff plays out.
And that's it.
That's all I've got.
So now you're up, Tristan.

TRISTAN WALKER: Well, thanks for having me.
Hopefully, I'll be able to shed some light on how
foursquare-- how we work with brands and businesses.
Quick show of hands, how many folks have actually reached
out to us on behalf of their clients?
OK, good enough.
So I just wanted to still have you think about brands and
merchants and retailers on foursquare.
How we like to think of it, we effectively think of brand
engagement on foursquare in three tiers.
So at the bottom tier, we have local merchants or sole
proprietors, so Joe's Coffee Shop, Mary's Flower Shop.
And in speaking to these folks, we have tens of
thousands of merchants on the platform right now.
When we speak to them, every single time, we hear there are
only really two things that they care about.
All that they care about is driving retention and
How can I inspire people to come to my venue a little bit
more-- loyal customers--
and how can I get new customers to visit?
So all that foursquare hopes to do is help them in those
two regards.
So we can tell them a little bit more about their loyal
customers by telling them who checks in, when, with who, how
often, eventually where they go before, where they go
after, and equip them with tools
to acquire new customers.
So we have these things called geotagged specials, whereby if
you're a merchant, you can run a special on our platform-- in
this case, Destination Bar-- and encourage new folks to
visit your venue a bit more.

So just a few examples of that.
This is Monique's Chocolate Shop, near
and dear to my heart.
I'm actually based in Palo Alto, California.
Monique's Chocolate Shop is a new chocolate shop that opened
about eight to nine weeks ago.
My wife actually teaches the daughter of this owner.
Her name is Monique.
And she walked in when they were building the venue.
She said, hey, you should try this foursquare thing.
My husband does business development for the company.
You should test it out and see what you think.
So Mark, the owner, said, you know what?
Why not?
I'll give it a shot.
It's free.
Why not?
He also decided to run a similar promotion in the local
newspaper where he paid an ad for about $300 a month.
And the special he decided to run said show that you've
checked in.
Buy one truffle and get one free.
Simple enough.
Ran the exact same thing in the newspaper.
Over the course of seven weeks, and I just spoke with
him last week, actually, the guy has
acquired 60 new customers.
He's seen well over 150 redemptions of this special.
And when you compare it to the newspaper ad that he bought,
he's only seen one redemption.
So when you think of all this stuff from an ROI perspective,
it tends to be put into perspective.

One of our favorites, this is Joe.
Joe owns a local dive bar in Milwaukee called AJ Bombers.
And the special thing about Joe, he's totally co-opted the
platform for his own.
So I remember, he came in on one Friday, he shot me an
email, and said, Tristan, how can I get people to unlock the
Swarm badge on foursquare.
It's that little thing with the bees in it.
And I wrote back to him, and I said, Joe, all you have to do
is get 50 people to your venue over the course of three hours
and people can unlock the Swarm badge.
He said, all right, thank you.
I'll get back in contact with you on Monday.
Come Monday, I get an email from Joe.
He says, Tristan, I want to thank you so much, so much.
I've decided to run a Swarm badge party on foursquare.
I said, Joe, that doesn't even make any sense.
What the hell are you talking about?
And he said, Tristan, the Swarm badge--
this was one of our first when we first launched it.
It was early in the year.
And he said, very few people in Milwaukee had the Swarm
badge, so I wanted to inspire people to unlock
this thing at my venue.
He said over the course of, I think it was 17 minutes, he
saw 160 people check in at his venue.
So if you look at that spike in the chart, that was his
Swarm badge party.
So again, how can you inspire continued loyalty, and
potentially new customers, with some of the game
mechanics that we have endemic to the platform?
And now it's up to us to build tools to blow this out of
proportion and really, really inspire that retention and
So Joe is a unique case.
And we see all the time a lot of merchants really co-opting
the platform for their own.
A lawyer in Miami giving free consultation if you check in
at the five big jails in town.
Cemetery giving free tours after your hundredth check in.
And we say why not?
Let's give these merchants the tools to do whatever they want
and play with it.
We don't want to get in front of that at all.
But let's just have fun with it.
And we see some really interesting ones, like a car
service that offers free rides for the
mayors of JFK or LaGuardia.
It's free.
And when you think about it, as a mayor, how great would it
be to call my local taxi driver and say, you owe me a
ride today.
And that person's just going to tell all of his friends,
and there's a ton of referrals,
and everybody's happy.
But again, it goes back to these two things, retention
and acquisition.
And all that we want to do is provide them with tools to
enhance both.
So that was the first tier.
Now, this is the second tier.
And this is near and dear to my heart and where I really
start to get excited.
This is retail.
And when we speak to retailers, folks like
Starbucks, The Gap, among others--
when you speak to retailers, they care about the same
things, retention and acquisition.
But now they're saying, how can foursquare become our new
digital loyalty card of choice?
So this is Tasti D-Lite.
Is anyone familiar with Tasti D-Lite, yogurt chain out here?
They did something super, super, super interesting.
They've leveraged our API to sync foursquare check-ins to
loyalty card swipes at the point of sale.
So you go to, you log into their loyalty
program, you connect your foursquare account to your
program in a Facebook Connect kind of way.
We have the equivalent foursquare connect.
And that's it.
Now when you go to Tasti D-Lite and swipe your card,
it'll check you in on foursquare.
It'll send an automatic tweet or Facebook status update
saying, I just earned an additional nine points on my
Tasti D-Lite Treat Card.
I get excited about this, because it really does three
things for the brand in a really unique way.
First, it takes the employee
completely out of the equation.
A lot of folks have always talked about this Holy Grail
of getting a coupon in front of a retailer, taking it in,
showing it at the cash register, and
redeeming the coupon.
It's really a Holy Grail that really doesn't exist. When you
think about training your employees and the cost that
takes, it's really a significant undertaking for a
lot of these retailers.
So it completely takes the employee
completely out of the equation.
Secondly, it's a free marketing impression for the
brand's loyalty program.
So by sending this automatic tweet, Facebook status update,
foursquare check-in, you're inspiring continued loyalty in
your program.
And when I saw this, I really started to think about the
business in a completely different way.
One thing that I think, I'm truly motivated by folks like
Facebook and Twitter that have found really interesting ways
to socialize the internet.
And I think we're in a unique position to socialize loyalty
and rewards in ways that have never been done before.
And this is just the beginning of what we can do here.
So that's the second thing.
The last thing, and this is where I get really, really
excited, is the opportunity now for folks like Tasti
D-Lite to do things like looping purchase habits with
lifestyle preferences.
So you can imagine an opportunity where Tasti D-Lite
maybe knows that you like a certain type of yogurt.
They've noticed that you've unlocked the Gym Rat badge on
So because of it, they might say, you've
unlocked the Gym Rat badge.
Here's a reward for it by getting a discount on our new
nonfat free yogurt, or whatever that is.
Or I can imagine a world where I go into my
local grocery retailer.
They've noticed that I tend to frequent
yogurt shops all time.
I might get a discount for Dannon yogurt at
the point of sale.
So this is something that I think we truly, truly
encourage retailers to think about,
because it's truly powerful.
And if you look at the loyalty card adoption rate that Tasti
D-Lite has seen since implementing foursquare
functionality into the program, it's a
hockey stick chart.
So again, how can we inspire that loyalty?
This is a really, really unique way to do so.
We've had the good fortune to work with folks like
Starbucks, Gap, Tasti D-Lite, and I always talk about,
again, that Holy Grail.
And people always use this example as the Holy Grail.
Walk in front of Starbucks, get a coupon, show the
barista, and we had the good fortune to actually do it.
Only to show it's really not the Holy Grail, but it was a
really good opportunity for us to test this out.
So Starbucks really gets social.
They came to us and said, Tristan, we want to reward our
loyal customers, particularly the mayors of our venues.
So you become the mayor if you check in at a Starbucks more
than anyone else over the course of 60 days.
So at the end, they have this Frappuccino promotion that
they do every summer.
And at the end of that promotion, they said, we want
to continue this for foursquare users.
So they said, simple enough.
If you're the foursquare mayor of our venue, check in, show
us, and get a dollar off any size Frappuccino.
Starbucks had already been the most checked-in retailer on
the platform, even just last week.
I think they crossed two and a half million check-ins.
It's pretty surreal.
Over the course of this campaign, as already the most
checked-in retailer on the platform, they saw a 50%
increase in foursquare-specific traffic to
their venues, which is significant, particularly when
you consider not only their being the most checked-in
retailer, but also it's just a discount for Frappuccinos.
And the thing that, I think, we care most about that we do
uniquely different from a lot of other folks just in the
space is that we can provide tools for brands to lead their
consumers to do stuff.
And once you're leading consumers to do stuff, there's
so much value exchange to be had by the brands.
Hopefully, one day, us, right?
And this is the stuff that, I think, marketers dream for.
Drove past five big sporting goods stores to hit up Sports
Authority because of the foursquare special, right?
Tried Frappuccinos, even though I've
never tried it before.
Jonathan, he's one of my colleagues, saved some money
at Steve Madden, and he had no intention of doing so.
So again, when you start to think of leveraging our
platform to lead your consumers to do things, as
opposed to just suggest, is really a fantastic opportunity
that we really want to encourage folks to play on.
So that's the second tier.
And lastly, brands.
So we've had the good fortune to work with folks from Bravo,
the Gap, Pepsi, among others.
And the way we do brand engagement on foursquare is
that it's all about guiding experiences, again, leading
consumers to do really interesting
things in their city.
Bravo came to us last October.
It was kind of a match made in heaven.
I'm a super Bravo fan.
They're foursquare users.
We emailed each other on the day.
It was kind of like a meant to be kind of thing, or at least
I like to think of it that way.
So they came to us and said we want to engage with viewers of
our five shows, Millionaire Matchmaker, Shear Genius, Real
Housewives, Launch My Line, and Top Chef.
They realize that they only really engage with the
consumers over the hour that those people are watching
those shows, but there are 23 hours of the day that they
want to be in constant contact with those consumers.
So I said, Bravo, you already have a really rich repository
of content that comes from celebrities of those shows.
Let's layer that into the foursquare platform.
So now, if you're following Bravo on foursquare, I might
unlock tips from Top Chefs, saying go to this restaurant
and try the steak sandwich, or from Real Housewives saying,
go to this wine bar, get this drink that's not even on the
menu, and ask for this bartender when you get there.
So in a unique way, to not only build an affinity with
the Bravo brand but also celebrities of that show.
How can you create these touch points of affinity-based
marketing that are really unique?
And if you do a set number of things that's recommended by
the brand, you'll unlock what we call digital candy within
our app, so these badges.
If you check in at three Real Housewives-recommended places,
you'll unlock the Real Housewife badge on foursquare.
And one thing that we try to promote for brands is have
those experiences that are unlocked within our app tied
to experiences that live outside in the real world.
So Bravo said, hey, we're going to take our Real
Housewife badge, work with a great partner of ours,
Sephora, and we're going to encourage Real Housewife users
to go to Sephora and get a special for it.
So they said, if you're a Real Housewives badgeholder, and
you go to this Sephora in New York tomorrow, you'll get a
$100 gift certificate if you're the first person there.
So again, thinking about leading consumers to do stuff.
So there's one woman who won, and she shared
that she won on Twitter.
And I always reach out to folks to see how their
redemption experience was.
So I reached out to her.
I said how was it?
Was it awesome?
And she said, yeah, it was great.
But it was even better watching the nine other people
run into the store trying to redeem their promotion.
Well, when you think about that, that's an opportunity
for Sephora to upsell those customers on whatever they
have in the store.
You can imagine a scenario where Sephora might even say,
if you want to know if you've gotten the $100 gift
certificate, you've got to spend $10 with us.
And very simply they could subsidize the
cost of that promotion.
So these are the ways that we try and kind of encourage
brands to think about this stuff.
And lastly--
this is last thing I'll finish with.
This is probably my favorite campaign, not unique to
foursquare, but just in all of social media in general.
Has anyone heard about what Jimmy Choo did?
So it was interesting.
The reason why this is my favorite is because we had
nothing to do with it at all.
I woke up one morning, read on Mashable, Jimmy Choo partners
with foursquare.
And how I kind of handled this development is, oh, that
didn't happen, until I read the article, and I said, great
And what they decided to do, they came out with a new
sneaker line.
And they gave that sneaker a personality.
So sneaker line in London, gave it a personality, gave it
a Twitter handle, gave it a foursquare account.
And that shoe would check in all around London.
So it'd check in saying, I'm eating a croissant at this
cafe, or I'm taking a look at this Picasso at this gallery.
And they would tell their followers, if you're following
this shoe and you got to that venue in enough time to catch
a Choo, you'll get a free pair of sneakers in your size.
So the shoe would stay there for two minutes, go to the
next place.
They had people around London running for three weeks trying
to catch this shoe, so much so that folks would run into
people with Jimmy Choo bags who had nothing
to do with the campaign.
But when you think about this and really distill it, it
really goes back to leading people to do stuff.
This is the epitome of leading your consumer to do the things
that you want.
And the key takeaway here-- they gave us some stats around
the campaign, which kind of blew my mind--
1 is 17 London users were chasing the shoe.
And then they also did a sales comparison in the four weeks
before they ran the campaign and the four weeks after, and
they saw a 30% increase in sales.
And we had nothing to do with it.
So the one thing that I guess I want to drive home here is
to really start to think of foursquare as a platform.
A lot of folks come and immediately want to do
a badge with us.
And that might not always be the best opportunity.
But if you just think of it as opening an account, just
starting and playing, and then seeing how your consumers want
you to leverage the platform, it'll certainly serve you guys
in good stead.
That's all I've got.
JOSH NEWMAN: So I think at this point, can we get that
five-digit short code back up here?
Thank you.
Looks like there's already some questions.
We'll start up at the top.
I'll just read them off, and you folks can just decide who
wants to answer.
But "foursquare is leading the way in
location-based services.
Can you tell us about how it all began, the ins and outs of
a location-based model?"
DENNIS CROWLEY: Of the ad model, or of the-- oh, that's
going to out whoever asked the question.
Yeah, as a product, we didn't really start the company to
start a business.
It was more like we wanted to build these things that would
explore what would happen if we try to turn the real world
into a game.
So with me and Naveen, my co-founder, working together,
it became a little bit about a check-in service and a little
bit about collecting tips and sharing experiences, and then
a little bit about unlocking badges and what not.
The stuff that we ended up doing with specials and a lot
of the stuff with brands, it wasn't us that invented it.
It was the local merchants that invented it.
So it was actually about exactly a year ago that
someone forwarded us a photo of a flyer that was hanging up
in San Francisco.
Was it the Marsh Cafe or something?
DENNIS CROWLEY: Yeah, and the flyer was, check in on
foursquare, and we'll give you $1 off a
ticket to the next show.
I can't remember specifically what the promotion was.
And then one of the reporters from Mashable or TechCrunch
wrote us, and like, how did you guys cut this deal?
I'm like, we didn't do that.
They're just hanging flyers up.
We don't know what they're doing.
And we started seeing more of that stuff.
As it started getting a little bit of press and as people
started hearing about foursquare, we started seeing
more of that stuff happening online.
So we specifically went out of our way to build a product
that could really capture all of that
opportunity for local merchants.
And then once we started working with Tristan, Tristan
came in with, we're really going to do a lot of this
stuff with brands.
So we started reaching out proactively to-- or not even
proactively, but a lot of people started contacting us.
We didn't really know specifically what to do with a
lot of these media folks or brands.
So Tristan has been helping define a lot of that for us.
TRISTAN WALKER: Yeah, I think the only thing to add there is
we didn't know about it, and I don't think anybody had any
idea around how to really engage in the space.
We said, let's just try a bunch of stuff and see what
sticks on the wall.
And that really allows us to really innovate and really
push the boundaries of this thing.
I think a lot of folks think, just as in general on kind of
this impression-based thing, and then when you really talk
to folks, that's not what they want.
At the end of the day, they just want people to buy stuff.
So we can totally simplify our product around
that particular goal.

JOSH NEWMAN: "Could one of you describe the social game
aspect of foursquare and the real significance this holds
for users and merchants?"
TRISTAN WALKER: I'll do merchants.
You do users?
TRISTAN WALKER: It's like tag team.
DENNIS CROWLEY: So yeah, the social gaming stuff, again, it
started as an experiment.
So Naveen and I just really wanted to build something that
would encourage you to do the things that you normally
wouldn't do.
So I live in the East Village, and I typically have these
nights where I'm too lazy or too stuck in a routine to go
any more than five blocks away from my apartment.
I'm sure a lot of people kind of empathize with that a
little bit or have had a similar experience.
So our thinking was, what if we made a leaderboard that
allowed you to compare with your friends to see who was
having the most fun this week.
And there was some way to capture the most fun by using
check-ins, using some of this stuff.
So that leaderboard for Saturday night was one of the
big questions that we had.
Can we build something that does that?
And then the badges started coming around.
It's like, well, what if we started offering people
rewards specifically for doing things that are kind of hard
to do, like go track down 20 different pizza places, and
you get a pizza badge.
Go to the gym 10 times in a month.
And what we started seeing is that people wanted to collect
these badges, and they would go out of their way to do it.
So we find ourselves in this really interesting spot where
we can create these game elements, and people will
change their behavior in the real world in
order to get them.
So we think, well, we could use that to drive people to
shops, as we're starting to do with some of the specials.
But then, I think what's more personally interesting is, can
you get people to make their lives more interesting and
more diverse?
Can we get people to see all of the Oscar movies before the
Oscars premiere?
Can we get people to go to the gym more often?
Can we get people to volunteer more often?
Can we get people to go to art galleries more
often than they would?
And a lot of this is just us experimenting with, OK, how do
you take social media and all of the interesting things from
it and push it out into the real world and see how it
impacts people's lives?
TRISTAN WALKER: Just a quick question.
How many folks have redeemed a mobile coupon that wasn't
So a lot of the hands stayed up.
And the reason I say that is because mobile coupons by
themselves are really boring.
It's not very interesting.
And Dennis would always talk about how it's all about what
you can do on top of the check-in to encourage people
to actually share their location.
I kind of take that analogy and take it on
the merchant side.
There'll be a swatch of just tons of ad products.
Come to my happy hour and give us a high five because our
venue's cool.
But it's not very interesting.
So the way I try and think of it is, what can we do on top
of those generic ad products?
So some of the examples, like the Swarm badge party that I
told you about, driving 160 people to your venue just to
unlock a 300-by-300 jpeg.
Or these mayorships, the same guy has seen a 30% increase in
menu item purchases as a result of that gaming dynamic.
So the one thing that we hope to do, and I think the same
thing that I said for brands about leading consumers to do
stuff, I think we can apply a lot of the
same things for merchants.
Just with generic ads by themselves, you really can't
lead anyone to do things.
That's when you're just suggesting.
So we're going to do everything we can to speak to
these merchants, figure out what game dynamics make the
most sense for them, and try and leverage that to the max
ability that we can.

JOSH NEWMAN: "Foursquare is still largely comprised of
early adopters.
How are you folks working to gain exposure and help grow
the technology?"
DENNIS CROWLEY: Yeah, it's interesting.
I kind of disagree with that.
We're at three and a half million users.
And it's at the point where it's weird.
Three and a half million users is still a relatively small
user base compared to larger social networks like Twitter
and Facebook.
But you think about the number of people that know what
foursquare is.
And my mom, who goes bowling every Thursday, has people at
the bowling alley that come up, and they're like, oh, I'm
hearing all about your son and his foursquare thing.
So even though they may not know what it is, the seed is
there to grow this thing it into something much larger.
So the people that are checking in on a regular
basis, you could call them early adopters.
But it was kind of the same thing with Twitter.
It's like, oh, no one's going to use that thing.
That's what people were saying two years ago.
A year ago, we were at 2,000 users.
And almost a year later, it's three and a half million.
So I think the next time we sit on this stage, the early
adopters thing will be kind of gone.
So what are we doing to grow out of that
early adopter ghetto?
That's one of the hardest things, I think, for a tech
service to do is to get into the mainstream.
And we've been really fortunate and lucky to partner
with such amazing brands.
When we partnered with Bravo, they put 15-, 20-second spots
on TV for us.
When we did deals with MTV and VH1, we got the
same type of treatment.
And that might not drive people to become users, but
it's kind of introducing the idea of what foursquare is
into the general social conscience.

It's been working out pretty well.
That's all I've got, yeah.
JOSH NEWMAN: "Outside of badges and partnerships, where
do you see the future of monetizing location-based
social networking?"
DENNIS CROWLEY: Outside of what?
JOSH NEWMAN: Location-based.
TRISTAN WALKER: So how are we going to make money?
Is that the question?
Oh, OK.
Outside of badges and partnerships.
Oh, yeah, so the crux of our business, or what we think to
be the crux of our business, will be local
merchants and retail.
Right now, we have a very generic run a frequency-based
special or run a mayor special.
And we really haven't done much for merchants over the
past six or seven months.
And that's going to change in the near future.
We can imagine a world where--
and I showed the merchant dashboard that we had where we
have pretty baseline analytics, like who your top
customers are, what the male/female ratio is.
We can imagine more robust analytics, like where do
people go before they visit your venue and
where do they go after?
And you can think about cross-promotional
opportunities there for the merchant.
Or even--
and this is total pie in the sky, but if you could think
about, on rainy days, your check-ins correlate in this
way, like here's a suggested special for you to run based
on past activity and performance that you've seen.
So robust analytics is certainly a fantastic
opportunity that we think we can leverage.
Another opportunity, if you think about these specials,
right now they're geotagged, so anyone within 200 meters
will be able to see this special.
But you can imagine almost a Google AdWords-like model
based on latitude, longitude, time of the day, day of the
week, et cetera, to feature specials.
And if we can dumb that down to the simplest way possible
for merchants to leverage, we think that that's a
monetization opportunity as well.
But the way we think about this stuff is, yeah, it's just
pie in the sky for us.
We'll never charge people for things that
they don't want, right?
So we're just taking the next couple of months to figure out
what they want and potentially charge them for it.
DENNIS CROWLEY: You guys ever use Google Analytics for
websites you have?
Yeah, we're basically building Google
Analytics for local merchants.
And you show this stuff to bars and restaurants in our
neighborhood, and the shop owners, their minds are blown.
They've never seen stats like this for their business.
And all you've got to do is encourage them to check in,
and you get the stats.
So we've got people that are hanging flyers up.
We get the people that are hanging these little clings in
their window.
You've seen those things like, visit us on Yelp.
You're going to start seeing a whole bunch of these, like,
check in on foursquare.
And as I'm walking through downtown, I'm starting to see
a lot more of those, because there's a reason for local
merchants to encourage people to check in and use the
product, because they get the stats on them.
They get the stats on them.
They can start building interesting promotions.
They can start targeting their customers in different ways.
And as excited as we are about building some of this stuff,
these guys, their minds are blown by it.
It's exciting to see.
TRISTAN WALKER: Yeah, we're totally surprised.
Like Joe, our supermerchant with the Swarm badge party,
he's just insane.
But the one thing that was really interesting, about a
week ago, he wrote a blog post. And he said, Tristan,
I've been running this mayor special.
I've seen immense success from it.
But it's just not enough.
I wanted to reward just regulars
that come to my venue.
So we leveraged our dashboard to figure out who the next
three in line were.
And those next three in line can create their own menu for
themselves every time that they come in, and also for
their friends, too.
And no one else can touch this special
super-mayor menu board.

But he found use in it and value.
Is that something we can charge for?
I don't know.
But I think we're going to explore this
and see if we can.
JOSH NEWMAN: I actually really like the next question, but
what are you folks doing to really create a balance
between the wants of users and the demands of marketers?" An
example being, I think probably 10 different people I
know have asked me, what do I have to do to unlock the
Douchebag badge?
So everybody wants that.
But with the whole idea behind it of--
because you touched on the idea that badges aren't always
necessarily the best thing to have in mind for a marketer,
so how do you work on balance of what the users want versus
the marketing demands?
TRISTAN WALKER: I think users always come first. If we don't
have any users, it really wouldn't matter what the
brands want.
That being said, we get all types of requests from brands.
The team's here.
We get upwards of 500 emails a day from brands
wanting to do stuff.
And a lot of it is just education at this point.
I think a lot of brands see
location-based services as hot.
And we try and just tell them, what's your goal?
Let's try and help you get to that goal.
We use this example internally all the time.
We call it the "mayonnaise dilemma." So we get a lot of
agencies and brands saying, hey, how can I get this
Mayonnaise badge for people that check in at a Target?
And you say, that just doesn't make any sense.
No one wants to unlock a Mayonnaise badge when they
check into Target.
But if they do, they might want to, but everything that
we do brand-side is a total opt-in relationship.
So in order to unlock the Bravo badges, et cetera, you
have to be following that brand on foursquare.
And for CPG, it's the most difficult, because we don't
really know what that means yet.
I think we're developing products that hopefully we'll
launch sooner than later to allow for some of that.
Right now, it's just all education.
And we try and tell brands, it's no rush.
We'll still be around for a little bit of time and raise
some good money.
Help us help you.
Tell me what your goal is, and we're going to help find
something to fit that goal, as opposed to fitting a square
peg into a round hole.
Is that the expression?
DENNIS CROWLEY: Yeah, I think one of the biggest--
if there's three big things that we're struggling with as
a company, it's dealing with the intake of business
development requests, because they're all really good ideas.
We're very protective of the badge system and the game
dynamics, because we just don't want to flood users with
marketing stuff.
We want to do just the right amount that it seems
It's pushing users to do interesting stuff.
We want to preserve the integrity of the badges and
the game dynamics that we've created.
And it's really tough not to say no, but like, hold on,
we're still working to build tools that will be able to
help a lot of these brands.
We're still 32 people, I think, now.
And we're racing as fast as we can to keep up with
And I think it's the hardest thing that we're struggling
with as a company.
TRISTAN WALKER: And I thought it was really important to
have that Jimmy Choo slide, because again, we did nothing.
Just set up an account, and there are opportunities to
really figure it out in a really compelling way that can
really drive to the goal that you want.
DENNIS CROWLEY: And so, a lot of the stuff we're working--
what's that?
We didn't even know about it.
We had no idea.
DENNIS CROWLEY: I even emailed you.
I'm like, what the heck?
You tell me about these things--
TRISTAN WALKER: Yeah, I had no idea.
I had no idea.
And we love that stuff.
Again, you've got to think of it as a platform.
They just found a really unique way to leverage it.
DENNIS CROWLEY: It's like they would use Twitter.
People have figured out how to use Twitter.
And I think brands have struggled with this before
with Twitter.
Like, oh my god, what are we going to use it for?
And then JetBlue finds their voice, and Jimmy Choo finds
their voice.
And I think we're going through that growing stage
with foursquare.
I think our product is a lot different.
It's interesting and complicated in different ways,
and brands are still trying to figure that out.
The key to us is going to be building self-service tools.
Right now, a lot of this is just handled manually.
We've got four guys that are helping out and trying to keep
up with the business development queue.
But if we can build tools and just let you guys go in there
and do whatever you want, kind of the same way Jimmy Choo
did, but do almost like a menu of things to choose from,
that's the way, because I don't think we can possibly
keep up with it.
So we want people just to be able to use the platform any
way they see fit.
And a lot of the stuff that we're working on that's not
foursquare 2.0 and the new features, like all the stuff
that's going on under the hood is to help people in this room
do the things they want to do on foursquare.

JOSH NEWMAN: This one's for me.
"From an agency standpoint, what advice can you give to
clients on how to best integrate foursquare into
marketing plans?" I would say for that, what's interesting
about that question is 5, 10 years ago, the
options were so limited.
It was, all right, there's a print campaign that maybe
drives people to a landing page, and that's really all.
From a creative standpoint, that was how we could push it.
Maybe we would have some Flash on the page, and that would be
about the extent of it.
Now, what's so amazing about that opportunity is there's
the ability-- there are all these new things.
We can run campaigns on Facebook that target people.
There are ways that we can integrate foursquare.
And what's great about that is from a perspective of an
airline client that we have, for example, we could come up
with things where you could have check-ins around if you
check in a certain amount of times, maybe you could get to
spend time in the lounge.
And using Advertising Week as a great example.
Advertising Week, this is an event.
And we can still--
back to that EA example, we can still come up with
different ways and different ideas to integrate foursquare
in ways that really make sense.
They're not forced.
They're really great ideas.
And it, from a creative leadership and a thought
leadership standpoint, gives us these fantastic
opportunities to be able to just think bigger than we ever
have before in using this is really new concept in the last
year or two of location-based social networking to integrate
with some of the more traditional things that people
are used to.
TRISTAN WALKER: Good answer.
DENNIS CROWLEY: You can take the next
one, too, if you want.
JOSH NEWMAN: "What are your plans for online-based
DENNIS CROWLEY: This comes up a bunch.
People want to check in to TV shows.
They want to check in to reading an article online.
People want to check in to online stores.
We've been struggling with this as well.
Not struggling with it.
It's like an internal debate that's constantly going on.
We decided that we want to focus on things that occur in
the real world.
We want to drive people towards real-world actions.
Part of that's because we're small as a team.
We have a lot on our plate, and we know we can't cover
We want to go after the core mission of foursquare, which
is, get people out in the real world.
Get them to explore their world and their neighborhood
in different ways.
So we haven't quite figured that out yet.
Do you have some thoughts on that?
TRISTAN WALKER: Yeah, I think it makes a lot of sense for an
e-commerce solution for folks that actually
have physical locations.
So we get a lot of requests from a lot of retailers in
particular to leverage our Add to
Foursquare button, for instance.
I go to, for lack of a better retailer.
And if I see a shirt that I like, maybe I add that to
foursquare, and it defaults to a certain local Gap location.
Next time I go to Gap, it'll remind me to try that shirt or
some thing like that.
That's a clever solution to tie the online-offline.
But I think as Dennis said, we always want to stick to our
core DNA, like physical location, at
least for now, anyway.
DENNIS CROWLEY: Did you just make that up?
DENNIS CROWLEY: OK, because that's good.
JOSH NEWMAN: Will someone write that down?
TRISTAN WALKER: Should've said yes.
JOSH NEWMAN: So next question, "do you folks see Facebook
Places as a viable competitor?"
DENNIS CROWLEY: Yeah, I think there's an ecosystem here
where a lot of people are starting to play in the
location space.
We've got Twitter doing geotagged tweets.
We've got Facebook starting to do what
they're doing with Places.
It's interesting.
People thought Facebook was going to come
along and kill Twitter.
And I think really what it made is it made the use case
for Twitter a lot stronger.
And it made the thing that distinguishes Twitter from
Facebook a lot more clear to people.
And I think we're kind of in that same boat, where the DNA
of foursquare is sort of different.
It's all about, you've got a very unique social graph, and
you're giving people the opportunity to go out and
explore the real world.
I think Facebook is very good, traditionally at trying to
help people share things online.
And I think foursquare was started specifically to help
people go and experience things offline.
And there's differences in DNAs of different companies,
and I think that's one of the things that's really going to
set us apart from that.
What we've seen so far is that since they've entered the
space, we've had some of our biggest growth numbers yet.
And we see a lot of our users--
they're driving a lot of attention to the space, and
we're driving a lot of users to experiment with the
foursquare platform as well.
TRISTAN WALKER: I'll say on the ad side, there's no
question that they've launched a great ad product.
But again, the way we think about it is what you can do on
top of those generic products to influence behavior.
So we just launched a badge API, a partner API, badge
opportunity with RunKeeper, that you'll get badges if you
run five miles.
What if that translated into buying products at your local
grocery retailer?
How can we influence these actions in unique ways to
drive unique behavior.
DENNIS CROWLEY: There's some special sauce within
foursquare, and it's somewhere in between the social utility.
And it's somewhere in between driving people to do things in
the real world.
And it's somewhere in between all the badges and game
mechanics that we've created.
And every time people check in, it's like
pulling a slot machine.
And you don't know what you're going to get.
You can get a tip from a friend.
You're going to know that someone's nearby.
You're going to earn a badge.
You're going to get points.
You're going to become mayor.
You're going to find a special.
And I don't know what it is specifically about foursquare
that makes people want to use it.
But it's one of those elements.
And that's the core of what we do.
And I think our product is always going to be distinct,
and I think it's always going to be a little more
interesting than anyone else in the space because of that.

TRISTAN WALKER: 30 seconds.
JOSH NEWMAN: 30 seconds.
The clock is ticking down.
So anything else you guys want to add to it
or any other points?
TRISTAN WALKER: We want to work with you all.
The most important thing is we do want to work with folks,
and we want to help make your clients successful, whether
it's with brands directly or with your clients.
We have products, and we're hoping to help and educate.
DENNIS CROWLEY: Self-service stuff is in the works.
Please stay tuned.
JOSH NEWMAN: And I think to sum it up, whether you're a
one-person merchant or you're one of the largest retailers
in the world, foursquare's got a solution for you.
Like I said, the people in this room are the best,
biggest, smartest advertising and agency folks out there.
So let's get creative and make some cool stuff at foursquare.