Foursquare Short-Term Forecast Sunny, Long-Term Hazy

Written on
Dec 8, 2010 
Gavin Dunaway  |

foursquare_smallADOTAS – The critics said it would never take off — what kind of person wants to constantly “check-in” and update friends on his/her location? The critics said once Facebook jumped in the location-based game, the mobile social network was screwed.

If there’s a lesson to be learned from 2010, it’s doubt the virility of FourSquare at your own peril. But 2011 is around the corner, and while the company is still blooming in the short term, the big picture is looking pretty hazy.

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley is making the conference rounds again this week, most recently showing up at Le Web 10 to boast that the mobile social network is up to 5 million users with 25,000 new recruits every day. Foursquare is averaging 2 million check-ins daily, as the average user checks in three to four times daily.

The company itself has also witnessed impressive growth in personnel: while last year Foursquare had four employees, now 40 staff members roam the office, including a new engineer who is entirely focused on statistics.

Crowley also implied (but didn’t confirm) that Foursquare turned down an acquisition offer of $140 million – tech gossipers believe the potential purchaser was either Facebook or Yahoo.

The offer came when Foursquare had only had raised $1.35 million in seed funding and before a $20 million round in October, with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz joining existing investors O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and Union Square Ventures. At the time the company was valued at $95 million, had more than 2 million users and was averaging 10,000 signups daily.

But what’s next? Eventually the growth incline is going to level out — just like it did for Twitter — so how is Foursquare going to keep this user base happy. Where is the Foursquare bus is headed?

“I don’t know,” Crowley told All Things D’s Kara Swisher on Tuesday at the D: Dive into Mobile conference. “As the product matures, the paths will become clearer.”

That certainly won’t inspire investor confidence. Previously Crowley suggested
Foursquare would allow local store owners to offer incentives to users that check-in every time they visit, but that still seems like short-term thinking.

What’s the long-term plan here? Or is there one at all — especially if checking in is a fad that will fade in 2011.

Gavin Dunaway is Editor, U.S. at AdMonsters, a leading trade publication, event producer and service provider for the online advertising industry. Previously, he had been Senior Editor of Adotas, where he arrived after years of ping-ponging around various industry publications. This Washington, D.C. native and George Mason University graduate also enjoys playing electric guitar so loud that the walls shake.

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