In a fireside chat with BuzzMachine’s Jeff Jarvis on the first day of the inaugural Street Fight Summit, Foursquare General Manager Evan Cohen said his company’s laser focus on location and mobile gives it a big advantage over other social companies. He noted that Facebook Places quickly flopped while Foursquare’s numbers keep growing. “We won a very exciting battle, and I feel good about it, but I won’t say we’ve won the war,” Cohen said.
Foursquare isn’t planning to hire a massive sales force in order to monetize, but the company is keeping busy with a number of partnerships with businesses and media companies. The service offers a Merchant API and is testing out partnerships with companies like Groupon to integrate deals into the platform.
With a recently launched iPhone feature called Radar, Cohen said that Foursquare is taking a more “lean forward” approach. In the past, Foursquare’s app was a passive experience, requiring users to take initiative to take out their phone and check in to a location. With Radar, the app pushes information to the user about places they’re interested in (which users have to opt into – privacy fiasco avoided). Cohen said it’s a “more aggressive model to make Foursquare more a part of your life.”
Foursquare is clearly aiming to be more of a regular utility for users on the go. As part of that goal, Cohen would like to partner with more media companies, which he said could leverage the service more to integrate location-based content with service. The company has already experimented with publishers such as New York Magazine, and Cohen said more big brands will be announced in the future.
Right now the company is encouraging publishers to allow users to read a review and hit a button to have it saved to a Foursquare to-do list. Some publishers are already using the “add to Foursquare feature,” but the button will be relaunched soon as “save to Foursquare,” he said.
“We’d love to see those on every publisher’s website whenever they write anything about a place,” he said, later adding: “It extends the relationship that the publisher has with users into the real world.”
Photo Credit: Shana Wittenwyler