Foursquare’s Biz Dev Chief Decamps for Andreessen Horowitz

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Foursquare has lost one of its best-known employees. Tristan Walker, who pioneered some of the company’s most innovative partnerships, announced today that he is leaving the location-based social networking company to accept a position as Entrepreneur-in-Residence (EIR) with venture capital firm Andreessen Horowitz.

Walker joins Pinterest co-founder Paul Sciarra, who left the ecommerce startup to become an EIR at Andreessen Horowitz early last month. Walker and Sciarra will likely help evaluate investments for the venture firm as well as develop new ventures with the company’s backing.

In a blog post, Walker described his new position “as a spot where I can work with a blank slate, people are encouraged to think big, and the opportunities are endless… I am extremely proud of the hand I had in shaping Foursquare’s future and helping us with a bunch of first-evers for the company and industry as a whole.”

Walker’s departure comes as Foursquare begins the push justify the $600 million valuation set in its last funding round nearly a year ago. News broke last week that the company aims to launch a paid-media platform in mid-June, and just yesterday, the company announced a new service, that will allow merchants to pay $10  to expedite their venue verification.

The next stage for Foursquare will be less about building new partnerships and more about developing and scaling assets like its merchant platform and ad network. For an entrepreneurial-minded person like Walker whose business development work with companies like American Express helped define Foursquare’s trajectory, the change is not a surprise.

Over the past few months, Walker has spearheaded the company’s data-driven loyalty programs, which will play a big role in positioning the product in an increasingly competitive market of loyalty and rewards for small merchants. Holger Lueforf, who headed up mobile and partnerships, has been in as business development VP for several months and will likely pick up where Walker left off.

In a statement to Street Fight, the company said: “Tristan’s big thinking and drive have been invaluable assets to foursquare over the last few years. His work has helped solidify foursquare as a strong marketing tool for brands and a data-driven loyalty platform for merchants. We know he’ll continue to do incredible things with our friends at Andreessen Horowitz.”

Steven Jacobs is an associate editor at Street Fight.