The new Director of Foursquare Jeff Gluck, appointed after the former head of location-based services Dennis Crowley left his post in January 2016, held a session of questions and answers on the Quora service. The head spoke about his main mistake, what he had learned at the company and about the plans for the development of Foursquare. Edition vc.ru published a translation of the material. Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai launched a social network with function of geopositioning Foursquare in 2009.
Mobile and web app allowed users to check in (“check in”) in all institutions of the city — cafes, restaurants, shops and so on, and learn the location of your friends. For each level users get the points. The one who accumulated the most points by attending the particular institution most of his friends, became its “mayor”. In addition, within the service there has its own system of earning achievements “badges”, which were issued for the implementation of different actions.
For example, for committing a certain number of marks in one place or visit several similar institutions. Also, the application had the opportunity to leave feedback about the quality of the institution and learn about similar places. By 2014, users were disappointed in the service. According to the editor of Venture Beat, Harrison Weber, then Foursquare took place in 1221 ranking iOS apps in the US, and the average rating in the App Store was 1.5 stars.
In August 2014, Dennis Crowley decided to split the service into two apps — Foursquare and Swarm. In the old there were opportunities to leave feedback and look for the right place, and the function check was issued in the Swarm. Because of the separation statistics of both services briefly improved, but in October fell again almost to the previous indicators, Foursquare was at 923 place of the General ranking in the US, and Swarp for got even in the top 1500.
“Most of the discontent was caused by the processing of competitive mechanics — points, rankings, badges and office. If the title of mayor could only get one user with the most check-ins in location, now the competition was only conducted among friends and the place could be “headed” in the tens and hundreds of mayors at the same time” — appreciate the new edition of Studio mobile and web development by Live Typing. Then the management of the company planned to turn the project into a rival recommendation service Yelp.
In parallel, the company began to develop other services for clients and for other companies. For example, the application-counselor Marsbot, which is based on data about the users movement encourages him to visit a certain place or to optimize the route. Or Pinpoint advertising service that allows advertisers using technology Pilgrim more accurately target ads based on information about the frequency of visits to specific locations, as well as features of style and buying habits.
In his opinion, to study the consumer habits of the audience in the offline world is important because there is done 90% of trade transactions. “This gives brands the opportunity to reach 150 million units in the United States by segmenting the audience, depending on where these people prefer to go. We are sure that the places you visit, are the best indicator of who you really are. Where you spend time in the real world says more about you than a couple of mouse clicks,” says Gluck in response to the question of how has changed the company since inception.
Other companies can obtain location data of the audience using the API Places — Foursquare service, which estimates that Gluck uses more than 100 thousand corporate clients, including Snapchat, Twitter, Airbnb, Apple, Samsung and other. “Now we evaluate all the possible ways to understand how positioning can help companies and customers. Foursquare has changed a bit over time, but we continue to work smart and inspired staff,” said Glitch.
According to him, they are in the company of over 200 people. According to Crunchbase, six investment rounds Foursquare raised $166,3 million from 19 investors. January 16, 2016, the company announced that it closed the sixth round of $45 million. Thus, according to the publication Recode, she had to agree to a revision more than doubled — from $650 million in 2013 to $250 million.
As a result, the co-founder Dennis Crowley, who directed her in 2009, had to resign his post, handing over control to the former operating Director of the company Jeff Gluck. Glitch came in on Foursquare in 2014. Previously, he was head of SkyFire, the company that developed the software for optimization video.
After the company in 2013 acquired Opera, he became Executive Vice-President, and later went to work at Foursquare. In 1999 he co-founded the service for booking travel at the last minute, Site59, which in 2002 acquired an aggregator of discounts on hotels Travelocity. Glitch was appointed head of the marketing Department and for seven years the company increased sales more than tripled — from $3.5 billion to $11 billion.
During a session of questions and answers Quora asked him to tell about the biggest mistake of his career. He remembered a story that happened to him shortly after the transition to Travelocity. “In the beginning of your Executive career, you are often advised to “serve the good of subordinates” to seek those things that hinder them to do the job, and to remove these barriers. Such advice is a lot of truth, but there is a catch,” he recalls.
At that time the basic criterion in the industry was the price, and we at Travelocity believe that the best journey should be extraordinary, to be remembered. So when in 2007 my Vice President of design suggested the idea of a new product — Experience Finder I was hooked. It was assumed that this product for those who dont say “I need the cheapest tour”, it is for those who want to spend weekend in Las Vegas as a rock star, or go for a weekend to a music festival in Austin. The product had to offer the appropriate accommodation and entertainment.
The problem was that to create this function, we used Adobe Flash, which was my team of designers. The first iPhone only had to appear, of Android smartphones did not exist and almost all of our sales were from personal computers and laptops. However, the team of engineers hated Experience Finder.
Flash was proprietary software without open source code. It was not supported on mobile devices and was not designed for SEO. In the company there were serious disputes. As head of marketing I thought it was my job to break through the resistance to innovation and to lift the restrictions in front of my team so it could work.
Thats what I did. I funded the development of the Experience Finder of their funds and blocked all attempts to kill it or merge it with the global platform of the company, she was rebuilt at the moment. It is recognized that the Experience Finder is not earned, SEO and mobile have become large areas. So I want to advice to the new leaders not to forget that their job is to think about what will bring the company success and inspire their subordinates to move in this direction, not only to eliminate barriers.
Sometimes the rights of the other team, and yours is not. And you have to find the courage to look his people in the eye and say it. In addition, the head of Foursquare spoke about the most valuable lesson he learned during his career. According to him, when the company is trying to solve a problem that she did not try to solve one, it inevitably finds a solution that can be used in many areas.
“At Foursquare, we have created key technology — Pilgrim, which helps us determine when people are in a new place and we can offer them the best advice and content that corresponds to the place where they are. And when this technology works, we realized that its capabilities enable us to create additional apps, not just city guide City Guide, as we originally planned,” says Gluck. We received a large amount of data that has helped us create solutions for advertising and Analytics, and are now used by major advertising agencies and hedge funds.
In addition, the company has created a Pilgrim SDK which allows to integrate the location technology of the user in other applications. “This will lead to the emergence of technology “programming context”, which will help us to find more intelligent solutions in areas such as Finance, retail, real estate, travel, geolocated games, Dating services, augmented reality and the creation of chatbots with artificial intelligence,” — said the head of Foursquare. According to Gluck, the main lesson is that an entrepreneur needs to be careful.
“In the end you will find that solve a much more complex and global problem than you started out to solve initially. And if youre open to new possibilities, you will be able to influence the world to an even greater extent,” he says. In addition, users of Quora asked how Foursquare refers to competition from Facebook, once at the beginning of March 2017, the social network started testing of the guide in cities City Guides.
In response, the Bug remembered the case, which he called “a key moment in the history of Foursquare”, some years ago, when Facebook introduced its version of “check-in” copying this feature from Foursquare. “Some staff were nervous, but Dennis Crowley was calm. He gathered all hands meeting and said. “Facebook can copy what we have created, but not what we are going to create”. This is our mantra”.
According to the head of the company, the other players always copying something from its products, but Foursquare “its not very disturbing”. “It happens all the time, throughout the history of the service, and we know that as long as we are focused on innovation and creating new ways of interacting with our community, we will thrive.”. The number of members of the community Foursquare Glitch was estimated at 50 million people worldwide.
According to him, the community of researchers makes Foursquare special City Guide. “They help us to find and apply to the map a unique place in the major cities, villages and beaches around the world. Since 2009, we have mapped and catalogued 93 million public places worldwide. We use machine learning to predict what places you enjoy,” he says.
According to forecasts by Gluck, in the next few years Forsquare will continue to increase the number of users and expand leadership in the field of intelligent positioning. “We will surprise the world large and bold start-UPS and new ideas,” he said.