With Investment in Geo, Foursquare Focuses on Improving Data Access

As the appetite for location data and products continues to grow, Foursquare is plunging even deeper into the space. The company recently hired three new senior executives with experience in location technology and advertising, and announced a strategic commitment to continuing to build innovative and user-friendly geo tools for the developer community.

New hires like Jackie Berg, vice president of developer and platform sales, Phillip Zakas, senior director of product, and Sidd Panigrahi, senior director of sales engineering, come to Foursquare with decades of experience from companies like Mapbox, Google, Apple, OpenX, and Gimbal.

“In addition to our investment in our data and technology, we are also committed to growing our team with strong leaders in the space to meet the growing demand for location data and products,” says Josh Cohen, senior vice president of product at Foursquare.

What is Foursquare planning to do with all this new talent? For starters, the company is investing more heavily in geo tools to help developers build more contextually aware apps. It’s also working to satisfy a growing demand for audience data coming from current and prospective partners.

“We recently polled hundreds of media and marketing managers, analysts, executives, and founders for their thoughts on what will matter most in 2020, and one of the key takeaways is that investment in audience data is increasing,” Cohen says. “Nearly 75% of respondents purchased audience data in 2019, and of those, more than half plan to increase their spend in 2020.”

When it comes to location data specifically, Cohen is seeing Foursquare’s partners put more emphasis on the quality of data. The company’s partners are developing more sophisticated understandings of the range of data quality when it comes to location, which means Foursquare has to dedicate more resources to make sure new industry-wide expectations are met.

With the addition of Berg, Zakas, and Panigrahi, Foursquare is hoping to grow its core base of developer users as well. Although Foursquare’s tools are already used by thousands of developers, including brands like Apple, Twitter, Samsung, TripAdvisor, and Uber, competition in the location space remains fierce. The competition between Foursquare, which has been creating developer tools since it opened up its API back in 2009, and younger upstarts is expected to grow even more intense in the coming year.

“Our 2020 roadmap is focused on access, quality, and utility,” says Cohen.

At the end of 2019, Foursquare launched a free tier of its Pilgrim SDK. Pilgrim is core to Foursquare and is the backbone of its $100 million enterprise business. It allows developers to enable contextual experiences and personalized content, and Cohen says the move to open it up for free is meant to inspire further innovation in the developer space.

Foursquare is also moving forward with plans to make its Places data available through more channels beyond the company’s sales team and the Places API. By the end of 2020, Cohen says Foursquare’s Places data will be made available through most of the tools and platforms that its customers use.

“We’ve invested heavily in building the largest independent global POI data set, and developers already use our data to help consumers find the best local dim sum place and the operating hours of their local pharmacy,” Cohen says. “In 2020, we’re focusing on ensuring the most popular venues are refreshed regularly and expanded to include the search terms consumers use to find those venues.”

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

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