#SFSW12: Foursquare’s Luedorf Says Users Still in Focus, Over Revenue

In a fireside chat with Fortune‘s Adam Lashinsky at Street Fight Summit West 2012 on Tuesday, Foursquare VP of business development Holger Luedorf said his company is focused more on user growth than monetization—at least for the time being. “Right now we are not really focusing on making money,” said Luedorf. Still, Foursquare’s push toward monetization is imminent. The company “just recently” hired a salesperson, and Luedorf said plans to monetize are coming “this year.”

Although the company isn’t planning on charging merchants to use its basic dashboard tools—which provide insight into consumer demographics and trends— Luedorf said Foursquare “isn’t closing the door” on the possibility of charging businesses for its yield management system, more commonly known as specials. The self-serve tool gives businesses a way to drive traffic on slow days by introducing specials targeted at customers who check-in within a certain distance of their establishments.

Luedorf said the company is also exploring ways to expand on its base of active users. Although Foursquare currently boasts 20 million users, Luedorf still sees room for growth, especially abroad. “About 50% of our traffic is in the U.S.,” Luedorf said. Japan, Indonesia, Turkey and the United Kingdom have all been strong markets in recent years, and Luedorf doesn’t expect to see that growth slowing anytime soon. “The growth has been very, very steady.”

One way that Foursquare plans on continuing its expansion is by putting more focus on its exploration features. Beyond the badges, points and mayorships, users are increasingly thinking of Foursquare as a personalized recommendation service. Rather than offering users generic recommendations based on hundreds of reviews, Foursquare is taking a more targeted approach; letting people know when they’re within close proximity of businesses that are frequented by their friends. “I think what we’re seeing now is that more and more users are actually transitioning over and saying, ‘Wait a minute, there is a lot of utility in this application.'”

Stephanie Miles is an associate editor at Street Fight.

  1. June 6, 2012

    More evidence that the management is clearly fumbling what could have been a terrific opportunity.  It’s much easier to show charts with skyrocketing lines for traffic than showing skyrocketing growth in revenues, isn’t it?  It’s disillusioning to see Foursquare squander a what could have been a great advertising opportunity by remaining little more than a game. –the mayor of 20 Foursquare venues…down from 40 just a few moths ago.) 

  2. June 6, 2012

    Great Point Gordon. I think they have to first find the right way to do it before moving to fast and goofing it up for/with the Merchants.

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