LeWeb10 Dennis Crowley and FourSquare

Dennis Crowley, Co-Founder, foursquare. Q&A with Loic Le Meur, Founder, LeWeb

LIVEBLOGGED: some paraphrasing and may be missed areas…video below

Dennis Crowley
Image from Adam Tinworth

LL: this is the second time you’ve spoke in EU
DC: yes, only spoke in Amsterdam

LL: how many people do you have
DC: just about to break 40 people, a year ago we were 4 people. We’re getting the pieces together.

LL: so how did you get the idea?
: it’s all stuff we’ve been thinking about for 10 years. I had Dodgeball, a general idea of where your friends were, so that is what we built, to make NYC easier to use. Once Dodgeball got turned of, got talking to Naveen to resurrect this. We crammed everything together, to a mess of an app…brought to SXSW. Now have 5 million users, as of last week

LL: split?
DC: 60%US, 40% International. NY and SF are blips, the activity is world wide. we have groups of users.

LL: how is the growth? is it like twitter at same stage?
DC: It’s difficult to compare,. Our stuff spreads differently, we pick up about 25k a day. 2mill checkins a day

LL: how long did it take?
DC: it launched and was ugly, we had a peak of 4000 users and then the usage slowed. We saw people and merchants getting flyers about checking in an 4SQ and get a discount or something. The merchants thought about this, not us. Then we started to have to get tools for them, then the investors got involved. We raised1 million for Series 1, got to 8 people, got to Mar, then we did $20m for series B.

LL: you refused a FB acquistion ?
DC: yes, we talked to people, about how the company should go. this was the best shot to get things done that we needed to get done….we talked to a bunch of folks, it was distracting for company. we learnt a lesson – keep head down and focus on what you need to do

LL: you’ve not had an exit yet?
DC: yes, we sold Dodgeball for Google

LL: how tough was refusing that? (the offer – say 100m)
DC: we’re doing this stuff because we build things that people want to use…that’s the stuff that gets me excited.

LL: so what’s the future?
DC: we’ve been thinking about stuff for so long….we have a room that is thinking about this. we know what the road map looks like, we need to build

AuDQ: Starbucks integration was interesting. how can other brands work
DC: It was individual merchants, but when Starbucks came along, we needed new tools. We are experimenting with new tools, like loyalty cards.

AudQ: the cost for a branded badge?
DC:there is no firm price – who it is, the exposure, the innovation, it’s all over the place. It’s been difficult for people to work with us, so we are building self service tools now, so we can make things happen

AudQ: what’s next?
DC: it’s about paths and conections, over time. That’s what we are excited

AudQ: what about users..they check in? what about the data? games or something else
DC: I think about recyling the data and giving back to the users..we can think about building features. We have the API for people to build on.

AudQ: What would you change with the world?
DC: I enjoy building products to solve problems. We never set out to make companies, there were things that were borken about how we connect with people and things in the world. We start with things that will make our lives more interesting….

AudQ: FB are doing Places, does that make you nervous?
DC: a lot of people are doing it. There were competitors to Dodgeball, there’s more now. Generally it’s good. FB anbd Twitter has shown people how to share things online. What we are doing is about sharing the offline world with people. There are other people doing it, but not in the same way, with the fun thing.

AudQ: a master checkin?
DC: i think that may come, we are in the plumbing service at the moment, It will work itself out.

AudQ: What about the localisation issues? (languages)
DC: I think that is a problem, it feels US centric, we have fixes for language etc

AudQ: This partnership with Endemol?
DC: we have people wanting to do a TV show etc….Endomol came and asked to do this. Not sure what will come out of it.

AUdQ: So what keeps you going?
we know the checkin will be commoditised….we are enabling this etc. we have people building on it. our product looks different to others, We need to not get distracted, keep focused. we are inspiring other folks, this is good

Audq: What about international expansion plans?
DC: We are seeing activity all over the world. we doing carrier distribution deals, so it is preloaded, advertised by carriers. We are looking at it, it’s in plan.

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