David Shim, Foursquare

After Foursquare Acquisition, Placed Founder David Shim Talks Teaming Up With a Major Competitor

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As the location marketing space heats up, new acquisitions and partnerships are becoming a more regular occurrence. Still, recent news that the location intelligence firm Placed had been acquired by Foursquare grabbed the attention of seasoned industry executives. Not only was this Foursquare’s first acquisition, but it came just as the company announced its largest ever financing round of $150 million.

The acquisition generated interest for another reason, as well. Placed was purchased by Snap less than two years ago, with Bloomberg reporting at the time that the deal was worth “about $125 million.”

How did a Seattle-based ad tech company move up the ranks to become an industry darling, less than eight years after its launch? And how does the new relationship between Foursquare and Placed, which was previously the biggest competitor to the company’s Foursquare Attribution product, impact the location industry at large?

To find out, we caught up with Placed founder and CEO—and now president of Foursquare—David Shim. Here are his thoughts on what it’s like to go through an acquisition, and how two industry heavyweights who’ve competed for years are finding new ways to work together.

Street Fight: How did this acquisition come about, and now that it’s finalized, what does it mean for the team at Placed?

David Shim: Earlier this year, Jeff Glueck [the CEO of Foursquare] reached out to Snap about the idea of acquiring Placed. This was a bit unusual, but the vision aligned with the reason why Snap acquired Placed in the first place—to provide a single standard for location. After the discussion with Jeff, Snap provided me with the option to explore the combination further, which resulted in an announcement two weeks ago. Lots of credit goes to Snap for investing in the broader vision of a single independent leader in location.

SF: What was the relationship between Placed and Foursquare prior to this? Both companies have been in the space for so long, I have to imagine there’s been a relationship of some kind.

Shim: Foursquare was the competitor that I begrudgingly respected. They held similar principles as Placed with the importance of first-party data, consumer privacy, delivering accurate and scalable results, and investing in the long-term potential of location versus chasing short-term gains.

In the last year, Foursquare was coming up more and more in conversations with agencies, brands, and publishers, and the opportunity to combine these two companies was a clear win for those agencies, brands, platforms, and publishers.

SF: How do you see this partnership ultimately benefitting advertisers?

Shim: I call this the 100 Club. Foursquare delivers a single platform for all things location with 100MM measurable devices in the U.S., $100MM+ in revenue, and $150MM in recent capital raised across 350+ employees. The combination of Foursquare and Placed delivers a definitive leader in location that advertisers can grow with over time. In the same way that Google is the market share leader in search, The Trade Desk in programmatic, Foursquare is the leader in location.

SF: Are these sorts of partnerships between powerhouses the future of location marketing, or is there still space for newer, smaller firms to gain a foothold?

Shim: Agencies, advertisers, developers, and publishers don’t want 20 choices when it comes to location. Rather, they prefer a common currency accepted by all parties, allowing them to invest in a single platform. With the combination of Foursquare and Placed, we are that single platform for location, enabling companies to invest in location for the long term.

SF: What does the acquisition mean for you personally?

Shim: I’m excited to be joining Foursquare as president, and as an investor in the most recent round. When I started Placed, I not only invested my time, but my money by investing in every single round right beside the VCs. In the case of Foursquare, I’m just as excited about what the future holds, and continuing that tradition.

SF: With Placed, Foursquare, and Snap all having this connection now, how do you see this impacting other players in the location industry?

Shim: Originally, before Snap acquired Placed, Snap evaluated the market and determine Placed as the best solution in location-based attribution. As a part of Snap, Placed continued to cement its leadership role in store-visit attribution.

Post the acquisition by Foursquare, Placed powered by Foursquare will be the preferred location based attribution solution for Snap. We’re also continuing our partnership with Snap in other ways, such as helping to power geofilters. The important point across the entire Foursquare-Placed-Snap journey is that Foursquare is now cemented as the true currency for offline attribution. The ability to measure campaign performance across 450+ publishers, networks, and platforms across digital, TV, and OOH is unmatched by any other player in-market.

Stephanie Miles is a senior editor at Street Fight.Rainbow over Montclair

Stephanie Miles is a journalist who covers personal finance, technology, and real estate. As Street Fight’s senior editor, she is particularly interested in how local merchants and national brands are utilizing hyperlocal technology to reach consumers. She has written for FHM, the Daily News, Working World, Gawker, Cityfile, and Recessionwire.