Foursquare’s next act: Making ‘Her’ a reality


Co-founder Dennis Crowley and CEO Jeff Glueck explain on the latest Recode Decode.

Foursquare started out as a game, of sorts.

Friends would check in at real-world locations to tell each other where they were, and earn points by doing that a lot. All the while, those users taught the service — and other users — which bars, restaurants and so on were good.

Today, Foursquare makes most of its money from selling that data to big companies, calling itself a “location intelligence company.” But as co-founder Dennis Crowley and CEO Jeff Glueck explained on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher, they haven’t stopped thinking about everyday users.

“Imagine a friend is walking alongside you,” Crowley said. “Can we make a personality like that, that talks to you in that sense? It’s not 30 years out. We’re going to be playing with this stuff a year from now.”

“I want to make that Scarlett Johansson that whispers in your ear, but it’s all about local places and local discovery,” he added. “I want to replicate the experience of walking through the city with a friend that knows the city inside and out, and I want to make that for millions of people.”

Crowley stepped aside as CEO in January to let then-COO Glueck take the top job and oversee Foursquare’s transition into enterprise and advertising products, even as it continued to operate two consumer-aimed apps: Swarm, a re-christened version of the old check-in game, and Foursquare, which recommends places to go.

Glueck noted that the company may be interested in visual cues delivered by augmented reality, in addition to audio. But he said the way we receive push notifications on our phones today will need some serious rethinking.

“In your glasses or EarPods or watch, some kind of filtering will have to happen,” Glueck said. “All these apps are pushing notifications at you. Certain devices are more personal, and you’ll have to have a high standard of whether you’ll want to be interrupted.”

You can listen to Recode Decode in the audio player above, or subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher. On Wednesday, we’ll have a bonus episode of Decode in which we review some of the most interesting and important things our guests have said about diversity.

If you like this show, you should also sample our other podcasts:

  • Recode Media with Peter Kafka features no-nonsense conversations with the smartest and most interesting people in the media world, with new episodes every Thursday. Use these links to subscribe on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • Too Embarrassed to Ask, hosted by Kara Swisher and The Verge’s Lauren Goode, answers the tech questions sent in by our readers and listeners. You can hear new episodes every Friday on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.
  • And Recode Replay has all the audio from our live events, including the Code Conference, Code Media and the Code Commerce Series. Subscribe today on iTunes, Google Play Music, TuneIn and Stitcher.

If you like what we’re doing, please write a review on iTunes — and if you don’t, just tweet-strafe Kara.

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