Cash the Check (in) Fast!

This tweet from @SeanEllis started me thinking

June 23rd
This Compete curve suggests Foursquare has jumped the shark – I’m guessing weak PM fit:

And this one from @compete really made me wonder

June 28th
@janthonymez @bussgang @SeanEllis unfortunately you’re right, our May #data shows that page views decreased 31%

Then this one from @cdixon made me go hmmmmmmmmmmmm

Foursquare Raises $20 Million Series B From Andreessen Horowitz

Traffic is not the story
The numbers were discussed back and forth by many, including @Dens (Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare) and, while I acknowledge they are not right, it got me thinking. I have talked to a number of my friends who are FourSquare users about how their usage habits have changed recently and they all have said that it has dropped off. I can also tell this is true as the number of twitter/facebook stati that are foursquare check-ins has tailed off. I joined the badge army a year ago but have recently switched to playing with Gowalla, putting a number of restaurant and bar mayorships up for grabs. Why did I switch and why are the check-ins of my friends fading. One possibility is because there may be a philosophical difference between the two.

From the outside (I have no insight to the strategies of either company) it appears that one sees itself as a product the other as a platform. With users having to wait for the release of new features, badges, etc., Foursquare appears to be a closed product. Gowalla conversely, allows photos to be uploaded and trips to be created etc. This user-generated content keeps the app fresh and new without a huge development effort. Now I think Andreessen is really smart and I have an admitted man-crush on Horowitz for his hip-hop and business building smarts but, if my assumption is correct, I think Calacanis and the Gowallans (?) got this right and here is why. I don’t think that this about badges, stickers and mayorships…

…this is about location based search!

Right now these services allow you, based on your location, to search for mayors, tips, and other people using the services. So why not the Yelp page or website for the restaurant you are in? Or photos geo-tagged on flickr for your spot. What about stories about the place in the local news or videos or facebook fan page? By replacing the Google search bar with a check-in these two services and the others that are out there are effectively the gateway drug to active location based search. And with that around the corner can passive be far behind? Foursquare may have the adoption head start but by thinking about themselves as a platform, Gowalla may have a philosophical head start. And then there is GoogleMe, hmmm.

janthonymez just checked in @ PIVOT (w/2 others)


3 responses to “Cash the Check (in) Fast!

  1. I reacted with a tweet about 10 seconds after seeing their Compete curve on Crunchbase. Twitter is not a place to think out loud so I felt really bad afterwards. As several pointed out on Twitter, there are a lot of reasons why that Compete curve probably doesn’t matter.

    1) It’s a mobile application.
    2) Their web traffic is probably more a function of PR (which peaked in previous months)
    3) Compete is not always accurate

    Your observations are much more informed and you offer solid constructive feedback for Foursquare.

  2. This post makes me think I should go strait to FaceBook/iPhone and not bother with Foursquare and Gowalla (or as you might say, J., “do not pass go-walla”). What’s your advice for people who still check into Starbucks for the coffee and not the key to the city?

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