Meeting Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley

I’m in the middle of a pitch right now and as a result started looking into Foursquare. I needed to find out quickly what kind of partnership opportunities might exist so I reached out to my Twitter friends to see if anyone knew anyone there. Turns out, one of my friends here in Amsterdam had a friend who knew their Twitter IDs, which led me to find out that Dennis Crowley was on a plane to Amsterdam as I was trying to track them down. Destiny!

What I love about Foursquare is the ability to remove planning from your evening and give in to serendipity. The best nights out are not planned anyway. But putting that in practice proved a bit difficult when I tried to join a pub crawl of strangers midstream with only Foursquare feeds as my guide. After dinner, I hopped in a cab to meet the Amsterdam Foursquares and Dennis at Cafe Kobalt. I’d missed them by about an hour but their updates hadn’t come through the system yet when I’d started out. Now it clearly showed they were over on Wolvenstraat. Back in the cab. Get there and again disappointment. The bartender said we’d missed the group of Americans by about 15 minutes. Foursquare doesn’t have you check out, so you have to check in to your next location to be found. We had a drink but the next check ins weren’t coming through so the Dark Angel and I headed home.

Sunday met with better results and Dennis and I finally had a drink and a chat at the American Hotel. He’d had several ideas pitched to him for new badges by the Amsterdam Foursquares the night before. His favorite was the Drugs, Sex and Rock and Roll badge where you’d have to go to a red light location, a coffee shop and a music venue all in one night to unlock it. Sounds like a solid Amsterdam challenge.

Dennis Crowley and Heather LeFevre

I was really interested to know if people cheat on Foursquare. Dennis describes it as the wild west right now. People are setting up their living room, bathroom and shower as locations or their checking into real venues from their couch. He’s planning a clean up phase soon so all you cheaters beware.

I was also keen to know what the points are for. At the moment it’s just about bragging rights, but down the road they are looking into special offers to trade for points or making donations to charity. I wondered what orphans will do with the Foursquare points. Let’s just say it’s not all figured out yet.

It sounds like there are a lot of exciting things in the works for Foursquare. Some big brands are exploring ways to partner with them and their 5th employee starts work this week. Even better, this was (fingers crossed) the first weekend that the system didn’t crash from too much traffic. There are about 100K users at the moment with something like 80-90% in the US. Right now I only have 2 friends in Amsterdam who use it and maybe 5 in the US. It was pretty funny to see my former CPB friends becoming the mayor of the Burger King in Gun Barrel, CO, but at some point posting all these checkins to Twitter could get mighty annoying. Hopefully Foursquare will take off and perhaps we will all opt-out of letting everyone know our position on Twitter. Because really I only want to know where my friends are wherever I am in the world and the Foursquare app tells me.

Dennis was kind enough to offer me the Blackberry beta so I’ll be giving that a go. I don’t have an iphone (digital workforce sacrilege?) but I just don’t want to have two phones and I haven’t been able to get work to abandon the Blackberry yet. Maybe if we win this pitch…

2 thoughts on “Meeting Foursquare’s Dennis Crowley

  1. hahaha, this is totally awesome. But the iPhone app is very good, I like the way it works, and I get my notifications via push (so like I knew when you were at SupperClub or whatnot). Anyway I love that you were able to run em down, meet up, chat, etc. We need more folks here on it, but so far is fun. And I hope they clean up the cheaters, cuz how in fuck does someone have 6x check-ins on a monday morning? Check the leaderboards and you’ll see. I’ll have to show you the iphone version soon (if you aint seen it yet).

  2. Hi Heather,

    Did you have a chance to see Dennis’ talk at Mobile Monday, Nov 16th in Amsterdam?

    He actually made a few interesting announcements: the API is ocfficially open and supported by now.

    And now there is a Foursquare application now on top of the popular Layar Augmented Reality app (iPhone, Android platform), which I made.

    The approach of the Layar version is actually just like you describe, completely centered around your geolocation. It shows the venues and tips about venues near you, prioritized by friends’ behavior.

    Now the API is still a bit in its infancy (e.g. like you mention, there are no checkout events). Also there is no Blackberry version of Layar yet, but otherwise you might definitely check it out on Android or iPhone when you get the chance.

    The announcement on my blog:

    BTW love the picture of you with @dens!

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