This is a guest post by the co-founder of Checkin Cashin, a site that matches Foursquare checkins with daily deals to only give you deals from places you care about.
SXSW Interactive is over, but it wasn’t without some great knowledge sharing and a few good parties. As usual, Foursquare had an active presence at SXSW this year in both departments. Part of that presence was an on stage conversation with Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley and Anil Dash titled “The Future of Location: From Social to Utility.” A lot of the conversation was on Foursquare’s past and what Crowley wants its future to be.
On the past, Crowley said that leaderboards, points, and badges were great game mechanics to get people to check in, but they are shifting away from this as it “muddles” the app and the real power lies in the recommendations. Don’t worry though, because he didn’t give any indication these were going away, just no longer going to be front and center. He also said he’s amazed how far it’s come in four years saying they never dreamed of some of the applications, then showed an animated version of the Hurricane Sandy graphic.
On the future, Crowley spent a considerable portion of the conversation on the power of the data. That included time on partners that use Foursquare to power location sharing, such as Instagram, Path, Vine, and Flickr and how Foursquare is the reference of location. Speaking to this, he said locations are a “living breathing datasite” and Foursquare is “a lot fresher than anything out there” due to its community. Crowley wants to use this data to help merchants find their best customers who have never heard of their place and provide great recommendations for users.
Crowley went on to say he wants to use the magic of Foursquare to customize maps and he said they “should be able to make a Harry Potter map,” referring to the Marauders Map that shows where people are and where you should go, drawing laughs from the crowd.
Continuing on partners, the conversation steered back toward the API. Crowley said there are 40,000 developers, but he has yet to see a “breakout” app built on the Foursquare API. He does like Timehop though, because it’s the story of his life.
Crowley was also sure to inject a bit of humor into the conversation and one of the funniest parts was talking about his engagement. Yes, you read that right, Crowley has been engaged to Chelsa Skees since New Years. When he told his mom the news, she asked if there would be a badge for his wedding, which he replied “absolutely not,” drawing tons of laughs from the crowd. I wonder if the Foursquare staff may now jokingly create a badge without him knowing until he checks in at his own wedding.
A few stats were also given throughout the conversation, like that Foursquare has 30 million users (double from last year), 3 billion check-in data points, 60% of it’s users outside the United States, and about 160 employees.
Did you catch Dennis at SXSW? What did you think?