Let’s assume things at Foursquare are horrific. Firing Crowley does nothing for investors. He and his team and his vision would be one of the plum assets a potential acquirer would want, and it would be so distracting and chaotic that it would only make the situation worse. Likewise, what genius is going to suddenly come in and see a solution to the problem that’s obsessed Crowley for his entire adult life that he didn’t see? Look at the devastationion of “check in” companies that went nowhere and haven’t remotely built the assets Foursquare has. If anyone is going to make this into a sustainable business it’s Crowley.
I agree. If you know the backstory, they would’ve run into the same problems with or without Dennis. Although unfortunately, if you do see the Swarm/4SQ combo succeed and either the company turns around or they get sold for a nice chunk of change, you may see some armchair analysts come out saying “see? they should’ve made this pivot months ago!”
The timing of that Facebook PM’s missive on Swarm is now…um…interesting to say the least. 🙂
Foursquare hopes that its new design will make the service’s strengths more obvious, and provide more room for experimentation. “The existing version of Foursquare didn’t have enough room for us to flex all the things we wanted to do,” says Crowley. “There’s been so much stuff locked up in admin tools and insider Foursquare views. Adding a ‘most popular this month’ section would’ve been awesome, but where are you gonna put it?” As part of today’s announcement, Foursquare is also teasing a few features of its new app, one of which is a Billboard-style “Most Popular” module that lets users see which places nearby are hottest right now. Thanks to its users who still check in, Foursquare is perhaps the only company that can track up and coming places with so much precision. But even without check-ins, Crowley argues, Foursquare’s unique “Pilgrim” location engine can pin you down at specific places better than any other app.
It’s a crowded space although Foursquare may prove to have an edge here with their underlying data, which is massive. I’ve been in Austin for the last couple of weeks and have been using Urbanspoon pretty frequently. It does have it’s limits though; it isn’t much use as a recommendation engine after the initial search. If the new Foursquare can provide that level of customization and learn my tastes, habits etc. over time, I think it’ll be a valuable service.
But wait, Facebook now owns Instagram, so of course they’re going to want to use their own place database, right? I guess. The issue I’m having is that for the first couple years after the deal, the database remained in the hands of Foursquare’s trusty API. Now, for whatever reason, that has changed (at least for some users). And we’re all worse off as a result.
That’s the real problem here. I get that Facebook owns Instagram and so they want to bring the geo functionality in-house as well. But the product is worse because of this change. Facebook place database is a nightmare of mislabeled and mislocated geo-barf. The data makes Apple Maps look like a pristine globe of information (more on that in a second).
Excellent post from MG. Couldn’t agree more. The phrase “cutting your nose off to spite your face” comes to mind. Although perhaps, as with Apple’s maps fiasco, there’s enough of a backlash for Instagram to go back to Foursquare’s database or at least allowing the user the option to choose between the two. Here’s hoping anyway.