Foursquare (company)

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Foursquare Labs Inc.
  • Location technology
  • Advertising technology
  • App developer tools
FoundedMarch 11, 2009; 12 years ago (2009-03-11) in New York, New York, U.S.
FoundersDennis Crowley
Naveen Selvadurai
United States
Area served
Key people
Gary Little, CEO[1]
Dennis Crowley,
Number of employees
Approximately 400[2]

Foursquare Labs Inc., commonly known as Foursquare, is an American technology company. The company's location platform is the foundation of several business and consumer products, including the Foursquare City Guide and Foursquare Swarm apps.[3]

Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai founded the company in late 2008 and launched it in 2009.[4][5] The company rose to prominence with the launch of its namesake local search-and-discovery mobile app, now known as Foursquare City Guide, which popularized the concept of real-time location-sharing and checking-in.[6][3] Alongside the changes to the consumer apps, the company began creating products that leverage the location data collected via billions of check-ins. From 2014 to 2016 the company rolled out a series of enterprise offerings, including Pinpoint by Foursquare and Foursquare Attribution.[7]

In May 2019 Foursquare bought Placed from Snap Inc. The terms of the deal were not disclosed. In April 2020 Foursquare announced a merger with Factual Inc. in an all-stock deal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.


Naveen Selvadurai, co-founder of Foursquare

Launch and early years[edit]

Co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai launched Foursquare City Guide in 2009 at SXSW.[8] Crowley had previously founded the similar project Dodgeball as his graduate thesis project in the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University and subsequently sold it to Google in 2005.[9]

In November 2009, Foursquare opened up access to its API, enabling developers to access data generated by the Foursquare app and build applications on top of that data.[10] Foursquare opened its second office, in San Francisco, the next year, shortly after reaching one million users.[11] In 2011, Foursquare began working on Pilgrim, the core technology that combines stop-detection and snap-to-place functions in order to provide contextual awareness to Foursquare's apps, so they can proactively engage with users in real time.[12][13][14]

Swarm release[edit]

In May 2014, the company launched Swarm, a companion app to Foursquare, that moved the social networking and location sharing aspects of the service to a separate application.[15] On August 7, 2014, the company launched Foursquare 8.0, the completely new version of the service that shifted the focus from check ins to focus on local search and recommendations.[16]

2015 to present[edit]

In April 2015, Foursquare began offering location-based enterprise products for marketers and advertisers with the launch of Pinpoint.[17] The company subsequently released Attribution, a tool for media performance measurement, in February 2016,[18] and the Pilgrim software development kit, which allows developers to use Foursquare's core Pilgrim technology to add context into their own apps and services, in March 2017.[19] Each of these tools can be used independently, or they can be bundled together.[20]

On January 14, 2016, co-founder Dennis Crowley stepped down from his position as CEO. He moved to an Executive Chairman position while Jeff Glueck, the company's COO, succeeded Crowley as the new CEO.[21][22]

In 2017, Foursquare hired more than 50 new staff members in various roles. Foursquare also announced its expansion in the Asia-Pacific region with partners like Tencent and Samsung and a new office in Singapore.[23] Over the course of the three-year period from 2015 through 2017, the company's revenue grew by more than 50% each year.[24][25] In early 2018, Foursquare opened a new engineering office in Chicago.[26]

On December 6, 2019, Foursquare's Board of Directors announced the appointment of David Shim as Chief Executive Officer and Member of the Board.[27]

In April 2020, Foursquare announced a merger with Factual Inc. in an all-stock deal. Financial terms of the deal were not disclosed.[28][29]

On November 5, 2020 it was announced that David Shim was stepping down as Chief Executive Officer, to be replaced by Gary Little, a member of the company's board.[30]


Foursquare is principally funded by Union Square Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, DFJ Growth, Morgan Stanley Alternative Investment Partners, Spark Capital, and more.[31][32] The company raised $1.35 million in its Series A round and $20 million in its Series B round.[33][34] On June 24, 2011, Foursquare raised $50 million on a $600 million valuation.[35] Their Series D round funding of $35 million was announced on December 19, 2013 and led by DFJ Growth.[36]

In January 2016, the company raised $45 million in a series E funding round led by Union Square Ventures. Morgan Stanley participated along with previous investors: DFJ Growth, Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital.[37] In October 2018, the company announced that it raised an additional $33 million in a series F funding round co-led by investors Simon Ventures and Naver, in addition to longstanding investor Union Square Ventures.[38]

In May 2019, Foursquare bought Placed from Snap Inc. The terms of the deal weren't disclosed.[39]

Consumer products[edit]

Foursquare City Guide[edit]

Launched in March 2009, Foursquare City Guide is a local search and discovery mobile app that helps users discover new places from a community of peers.[8] The app provides personalized recommendations of places to go near a user's current location based on the user's previous visits, likes and check-in history.[40]

Foursquare Swarm[edit]

In May 2014, the company launched Foursquare Swarm, a companion app to Foursquare City Guide, which migrated the social networking and location sharing aspects of the service into a separate application. Swarm acts as a lifelogging tool for users to keep a record of the places they have been, featuring statistics on the places they have been, and a search capability to recall places where they have checked in.[41] Swarm also lets users share where they have been with their friends, and see where their friends have been. Though it is not necessary to use both apps, Swarm works together with Foursquare City Guide to improve a user's recommendations – a user's Swarm check-ins help Foursquare understand the kinds of places they like to go.[42]


Launched in May 2016, Marsbot is a tool that helps users discover new places by learning what they like and then sending recommendations via text.[43] Unlike a chatbot or virtual personal assistant, Marsbot does not answer questions. Instead, Marsbot learns about the places users go and then sends context-based suggestions about places to eat and drink nearby.[44][45] Crowley has claimed that Marsbot is part of a larger vision of the future of location-based experiences for consumers.[46] In October 2020, Foursquare released an audio AR version of Marsbot called Marsbot for AirPods, a "lightweight" virtual assistant that whispers location-specific guidance through your bluetooth headphones.[47]

Business products[edit]

Places by Foursquare[edit]

Launched in November 2009,[10] Places by Foursquare is a database of more than 105 million places worldwide and an API that enables location data for Apple, Samsung, Microsoft, Tencent, Snapchat, Twitter, Uber, and others.[48][49] As of October 2018, Foursquare claims more than 150,000 brands and developers have registered for the technology.[50]

Pinpoint by Foursquare[edit]

Launched in April 2015, Pinpoint by Foursquare is a media platform that directs targeted marketing to audiences based on where they go in the real world and other personalized factors like taste preferences and demographics.[51] As of 2018, it reaches 150 million devices – both Foursquare users and non-users – in the U.S.[52] It targets audiences based on key factors like taste preferences, demographics, and visit history.[53][54] More than half of the Ad Age top 100 leading advertisers use Pinpoint.[25]

Placed powered by Foursquare[edit]

Placed powered by Foursquare, formerly called Attribution, is a media performance measurement tool released in February 2016. It measures the effectiveness of any multi-channel ad campaign aimed at driving people into stores and other offline locations.[18] Placed powered by Foursquare measures locations against Foursquare's always-on panel of 30 million people.[55][56] In June 2018, Foursquare announced an updated methodology for its attribution product using machine learning and more than 500 attributes to understand the impact of ads on in-store visits. At the same time, the company announced partnerships with Spotify, TGI Fridays and Panera Bread.[57][58] In November 2018, Foursquare partnered with Inscape on TV attribution, which allows the company to measure the impact of linear TV ads on in-store foot traffic.[59] In May 2019, Foursquare announced that it had acquired Placed, and as a result of the transaction the two companies' ad-effectiveness-measurement products would be merged and rebranded as Placed powered by Foursquare.[60]

Pilgrim SDK by Foursquare[edit]

Launched in March 2017, Pilgrim SDK is a software development kit that can be incorporated into mobile apps for brands to understand precisely where phones go in the real world, allowing them to engage with users at the right time and place.[19] Pilgrim SDK is used by Tinder, TripAdvisor,[61] Capital One, TouchTunes and other brands.[62][63][64]

On October 2, 2019, Foursquare announced a free-tier of its SDK for apps and developers with fewer than 100,000 MAU to utilize Foursquare location proprietary technology.[65]


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