During a conversation with uber-blogger Robert Scoble at LeWeb this afternoon, Foursquare‘s co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley provided an interesting look at the current state of the popular location-based service and some hints at what it’s aiming for in the future. Crowley also noted that the public perception of Foursquare is that it’s still just a check-in service, even though the company is now strongly focussing on recommendation. For Crowley, the service is really more about helping people discover new places than checking in.
Foursquare Today: 30 Million Places, 15 Million Users
Foursquare now has about 30 million crowdsources locations and 15 million users. About 600,000 merchants now use the company’s offers feature. About 50% of the service’s usage is now outside of the U.S., especially in Asia. One country that is seeing very strong growth is Brazil.
More Than Just Check-Ins
With its recommendation engine, Crowley argued, Foursquare’s check-ins have now become useful. While its users were at first just using the service to get their virtual badges, they now get additional value from the service. Crowley also pointed out that many of the service’s users don’t actually check in but still use the service to discover interesting new venues.
As fas as competition goes, Foursquare thinks that its recommendation engine has broadened its focus and taken it into new and often crowded spaces. Crowley noted that he still looks as Yelp, Google, Facebook and many of the smaller companies as competition. Sadly, the conversation didn’t touch upon Gowalla’s recent exit from the location market.
The Foursquare Platform
With regard to Foursquare’s platform, Crowley noted that a lot of developers have apparently decided that the Foursquare location API is now the best one to use for their services. “We’ve been really satisfied by how quickly developers have been adopting our API.” One thing Crowley would like Foursquare to do next with its API is giving developers the ability to push more information back into the service.
Looking ahead, Crowley noted that the company isn’t so much thinking about profitability as monetization right now. For the next year, Foursquare especially aims to grow its big data team.