three years ago this week, when dennis and i were putting the finishing touches on the vision for this company, we had a hundred or so beta testers who helped us reach the finish line. we went down to sxsw to tell the world about foursquare.
it’s hard to believe that now, three years later, instead of one hundred beta testers, the company has over a hundred incredibly talented employees helping us realize that vision. and they’re building amazing things.
in that time, i’ve worn a ton of hats: from product to engineering, from funding rounds to roadshows, from recruiting to evangelizing. but, after three years, i feel i’ve done all i can do and i’m moving on. dennis and i have been discussing timing for a while, and we decided that now, on this anniversary, it feels right to begin the transition. so this will be my last month working at foursquare. over the course of the next few weeks, i’m going to be taking a step back as my final projects near their release.
i’ve always been here for the company and i always will be. i look quietly around the office every once in a while as the team works (not. creepy. at. all.) and i can’t tell you how proud i am of everyone. we’ve brought together an incredibly special group – one that’s going to go down in history – and they’re going to keep making us all proud.
going forward, i’m going to continue to be connected to the company: i’m on the board, i’ll still be advising, and i’m obviously going to be the single most vocal user. but the spring is time for things that are new, and i realize that i have a desire to do something new as well. i’m not sure about my exact next steps, but i’ll probably get back to what i love most – being an entrepreneur, learning and building new things.
three years ago, we took an idea and threw it into the world. i’m going to miss the crazy intensity that is foursquare, but am excited to see where it all goes from here.
so, there it is. after about 32 months (more than two-and-a-half years!) at 36 cooper square, foursquare hq is moving to soho.
we were two people when we first landed here in may 2009. we’re now 100. it’s become standing-room-only in this office, so we have to move to bigger digs. i’m really going to miss this space and being in the east village a lot. we’ve all been looking back on how the office changed and how we’ve changed (we were so young back then!).
as it always does, new york changed a lot too and it got me thinking about a before-and-after of the neighborhood:
then: the scratcher was like our living room. now: the scratcher is still our living room, but it can’t fit all of us.
then: the cooper square hotel had just opened. now: as of a few weeks ago, it became the standard east village.
then: the 185-year-old 35 cooper square, home of the asian pub, was a favorite hang across the street from the office. now: the 35 cooper asian pub has closed and was demolished in winter 2011 after a long battle with the landmarks commission.
then: the cooper union got a new identity by way of a new academic building, 41 cooper square, which had just finished construction. now: the cooper union undergoing a bit of an identity crisis as it figures out finances and ponders whether to start charging students tuition for the first time in its history.
then: the street in front of the office was ripped open and under construction, for god knows what. now: the street in front of the office is ripped open and under construction, for god knows what.
mari’s got a great set of photos that has as selection of a few of the best memories from the last couple of years: it’s titled “36 cooper”, appropriately.
i’ve talked to a lot of people over the last year about “what they should do next”: some want to get into technology; some are wondering what to study in school (or, even, whether they should stay in school at all!); some want to create a product. no matter what we talk about, it always seems to come back to one thing: making stuff. and i feel like i always give the same advice: that no matter what you’re doing, no matter what field you’re in, you should learn to code.
it’s been talked about quite a bit before  and a conversation with fred recently brought it back up: i like to see coding as being a bit like art. it’s one of those skills for which you should at least learn the basics. you may not get very good at it, and that’s fine, but in learning how to do it, you’ll get three things:
- it’ll make you appreciate how it’s done and how an engineer’s mind works;
- it’ll give you a different perspective on whatever it is you do during your day job;
- it’ll give you the ability to make something out of nothing – like painting on a blank white canvas!;
the follow-up i tell people is that they should “learn by doing” . that is, to pick a small project of some sort and to see it through to the finish. the smaller and easier, the better, as you’ll be able to realize a working product you can hold, appreciate and show your friends. it almost doesn’t matter what language or platform you pick, as long as you pick something that you can finish and that you dreamt
over the last couple of sundays, i’ve started to make stuff on the side again. i take a sunday here and there to try to learn something new. sometimes these projects are foursquare-related and, sometimes, they are things i’ve seen others do and was curious to learn. nearly everything i do on a day-to-day basis exists in the digital world, so i’ve started seeking old-school, slowed-down, hand-made experiences that we haven’t done in a while.
recently, jealous that mari can paint so well, i decided to try my hand at learning to paint. i decided to take my own advice. i’m aiming to learn and to make something that i can hang on a wall: be it a painting or some other sort of programmatic art. i’m trying to bring my knowledge of code to art and to programatically create art from data. my first project is one i’ve been thinking about for a while: i’m trying to visualize what i know of my dna. i hope to hang this on a wall someday soon.
last week, my buddy steve shared a quote with me:
“building software is the last thing we do by hand.”
it’s a clever way of looking at how art has progressed.
it’s the last art that will allow us to make something out of nothing.
1. pg, hackers & painters.
2. i watched the eames documentary last weekend and i noticed they talk a lot about this ‘learn-by-doing’ philosophy. it’s a great doc, you should put it on your list for 2011.
so…on wednesday, i got a chance to have coffee with steve wozniak. i follow him on foursquare and i noticed that he happened to be in new york city because he was a special guest at gizmodo gallery earlier this week. i decided to shoot him a note to see if he wanted to get together. my goal was to invite him to visit the hq to surprise team foursquare (always. be. loving.) but he had a busy schedule. luckily, we were able to set aside some time for coffee on wednesday morning.
i will always remember this as one of the greatest moments in my life. we talked for a while – about travel, about gadgets (we compared notes on our favorites and the crazy watches we both like to wear), about the “other” steve and about apple history. i obviously wasn’t around for the early days of apple, but from what i know from stories i’ve read, he seemed to be every bit the man he was back then. he had such love for technology and such energy for telling stories. i imagined him as the same energetic guy he was back in the late 1960s, before all we know of him came around.
he reminded me a lot of my dad and his non-stop energy for all-things-technical. my dad too was a tinkerer and an engineer at heart, even way back when he lived in india. legendary in the family are stories of how he built, from scratch, toys like smoke alarms and short wave transistor radios. (one story tells of how he and his brother would use their radio to listen to chinese broadcasts from home during the sino-indian war).
i’ve been slowly working my way through the steve jobs biography and i couldn’t help but get caught up in the romanticism of the 60s. i imagined what it would have been like to have been around in “silicon valley” back in those days. the jobs biography mentions how baby steve was adopted from michigan to california. it briefly mentions the idea that if he hadn’t moved to california, how different the last three decades would’ve been. there were so many smart, like-minded guys all living in close proximity and dreaming about the future – and more importantly, working together in small ways to build that future.
it then got me thinking about this idea of the “being in the right place at the right time”. i wondered what my dad would’ve done if he’d grown up in california in the 60s instead of india. i couldn’t help, as i read the book, but draw parallels and to imagine my dad as one of the engineers and hackers living in those times.
no matter whether you believe in fate or free will, they both affect many paths in life: from the college we go to, to where we live, to the jobs we take and to the people we run into and with whom we become friends and lovers. but i think the most powerful of these factors is location – where we are now and where we choose to live. i think that location, more than anything else, is a powerful determinant of which path one will take in life.
i sometimes think about this, having made the move from india to america so long ago. i want to say my family thought about moving to other places in the world: dubai, singapore, london. but the usa was the path we chose. from india to connecticut, to massachusetts and then on to new york. and if you want to get really local: from my uptown, big company life to my downtown, startup life. and i think about where my path is going in future.
a few conversations and articles from this past week got me thinking about the early days of foursquare and some of the early ideas and projects that inspired me to start on this path.
rewind it back to 2004. i was working at sony, leading a small team that was working on building a music platform and an app store for mobile phones. as a part of my job, i got to travel quite a bit. i particularly spent a lot of time in asia. as one usually does, i would turn to my friends for recommendations for places to which i should go. over time, i started creating crude hacks so that i could keep lists of such things, either in raw form or somehow backed with geocodes and metadata. the latter was especially useful in asia where the languages made it very hard to find your way around and to find your way back to your favorite shops.
in 2006, inspired by one of my most favorite sites at the time, del.icio.us, i decided to start hacking on a “delicious for places”. in fact, the first pass at trying to invent something to remember places saw me trying to tag places and metadata on top of delicious. at the time, i really liked the idea of using delicious like a datastore that could be used to store all sorts of data and then queried based on tags. (think: memcache). then i morphed this system to its own backend and gave it a name: placefuse. (uhh, don’t ask. i was young and poor and the domain was available). and just like with delicious, you could tag all your favorite places. you could then query your history using tags – these would automatically create lists of places. and then, depending on which interface you were using – web or mobile or smartphone – these queries would automatically render the appropriate views (kml if you were coming from a maps app, xhtml if you were on mobile web, …). there were a couple of reserved tags, including one called “go”, which is sort of a precursor to the idea of a to-do list. if i hadn’t yet been to a place, i couldn’t tag it with one of the standard tags, so it would get marked “go” so it could be called upon when i felt like trying something new.
in 2007, i left sony with a big desire to start anew. i knew i wanted to start up something to solve this local discovery problem. and i knew i wanted to build it on mobile – it’s the platform with which i was most familiar, having worked on it since leaving college. in may of that year, i started working with some friends on their local startup (socialight) in an unassuming office in union square. while working on this project, i spent nights and weekends continuing to iterate on small projects and hacks on the side.
it was in this office space that i ended up meeting dennis. we started sharing our ideas and thinking and, after a while, collaborating on an idea that would bring all this together. these collaborations became foursquare. but that’s a story for another time.
“I think if you do something and it turns out pretty good, then you should go do something else wonderful, not dwell on it for too long. Just figure out what’s next.”
i think you probably already know of this, but wanted to share that we’re organizing our second official hackathon this weekend. our first official one was back in february. nearly forty hacks came out of it (crowd favorite 4squareand7yearsago being one of them)
this time around, we’re doing something that’s long been a wish of mine: to do a truly global hackathon. it’ll starts in tokyo when the sun rises on saturday morning and finish in san francisco where the sun sets on sunday evening. forty-eight hours, non-stop.
we’re hosting it in four official cities (tokyo, paris, nyc, sf) and then in more than 100 (!) unofficial, user-organized cities around the world
the official wiki/start page is here: https://github.com/foursquare/hackathon/wiki/Foursquare-Global-Hackathon
i think there’s something really interesting here. it’s part an experiment in how such an event can work: will people collaborate across the world on the same project? how will people talk to each other and keep up with remote locations? …
lots of credit to the platform and marketing team at foursquare for putting this one together!
i’ve been taking a lot of photos this year, more than ever before. it was actually one of my goals for 2011.
with the recommendation of mari and a few others, i picked up a panasonic gf1, which packs the basic sorts of SLR features in a compact frame. i made a goal to carry the camera around everywhere, both here in nyc as well as when i travel. (i envisioned i’d be like bill cunningham: going around the city with it always by my side). i carry my iphone4 with me everywhere and use that quite a bit to take pictures and to tell a story. but i wanted something a little more powerful that i could use to learn more about photography and to get me to take better pictures.
i took a lot of photos over the last few months, but i never really shared most of them anywhere.
so, last night, i decided to choose a few of them, do a little postprocessing (learning new skills!) where necessary and i have started publishing them on tumblr. it took a little while for me to decide which platform i wanted to use to post my photos (flickr? 500px? tumblr? roll my own?) but in the end i decided to stick with tumblr (more on that hard decision in a future post). my tumblr used to be a rehashing of other people’s posts and random commentary sprinkled here-and-there of things i found interesting. too often, it felt like i was posting things there for postings-sake, instead of learning something and making something. so i’ve decided instead to make it all about original posts: photo posts.
follow ∞ – my photo blog.
Now available as a list on foursquare: Must-see places in København, based on suggestions from friends and where I went last week.
A great, chill city with an eye for design and cycling. We stayed in a hip loft hotel in Islands Brygge, which I imagine is their version of a SoHo/Williamsburg–that is, after all the artists moved out and hip people moved in. Like Tokyo, it’s definitely one of those “We have to go back, Kate!”-type places.
I’m dreaming of a day when I will be able to more closely embed such a list on my blog. It could be a great hack day project (our hackathon is coming up in two weeks)
MoMA’s ‘Talk to Me’ is a look at how people interact and communicate with objects. It reminds me of something a little like MoMA’s curators putting together an ITP show.
I am particularly excited about this because I’m sort of in the show. I didn’t fully know it at the time I signed up, I got to play a role in one of area/code’s games at the exhibit: Helix. Loose attempt at explaining all this: area/code used SNP data and traits from my DNA (via 23andme) to create a card game that I could play against another person. Each person’s deck of cards fits some profile of their DNA. Each card has sides with one of four colors and the player’s job is to create a chain (strand) with the cards. The person to collect the most cards (ie, the most strands) at the end of the game wins the game.
Be sure to catch the project there – Talk to Me.
new york city to montauk. 100 miles. the longest bike ride i’ve ever done in my life. i doubt i’ve even done 100 miles so far in 2011!
i practiced with some semi-long rides in the weeks leading up to the race, including one hard, hilly 50-something miler into piermont and back. i fell behind so much that i could have stopped for tea breaks and my friends wouldn’t have noticed! the fun part about riding long distances, as opposed to running them, is that you can pretty much eat and drink all you want through the course.
anyway, the 100 miles are done. our group finished the day hanging at montauk manor, eating as much as we could and taking in as much pool and hot tub time as we could.
the ride was incredibly fun, and relatively flat, thank goodness. no hard moments to speak of, except for one ridiculous flat tire at mile 70. the entire ride took about 8 hours, with about an hour and a half wasted walking the flat to the rest area and fixing it. oops. carry spares, patch kits; lesson learned.
in no particular order, some notes from the quantified self conference i attended this weekend in mountain view –
(i originally sent this over to @lhl via email)
i’m not sure there was a lot of blogging at the conference; much note-taking instead. i’ve been meaning to blog this up in some structured form so that i can share it with more people, but will share loose thoughts instead
all the usual suspects came out (fitbit, runkeeper, …) and even some stars in the scene (kevin kelly, obviously; ethan zuckerman; esther dyson; …). i got to meet greg lemond and hear his take on data and sports and cycling
zuckerman talked about tracking media (news read, basically) to see if we can improve what we consume. (“did i get enough africa today?”). i love this concept.
it was great to see dyson’s views on 23andme and what is possible and what’s not at this stage
lemond talked a lot about how much he tracks with cycling: vo2max, wattage, power output, …in order to determine what max he can get to before his body starts working against him. it’s really interesting to view the body this way. professional athletes at his level push their body past sustainable limits, so it’s not something the average person/cyclist could adopt. but it’s interesting to see what they do track to know all this, and it’s interesting to see how hard it was just ten years ago compared to the state of tools and electronics today
new things i’ll add to my arsenal soon:
zeo – more detailed sleep tracking than fitbit and the rest. it offers up the ability to show you in detail the four stages of sleep and how
long you are in each. the idea is that by seeing this data and triggering the alarm at the right moments, you can sleep better/longer
basis – new heart rate monitor/tracker that takes the form of a watch. previously it was very difficult to track this on your wrist, but they seem to have done it. i’m curious to try looking at this HR data all day to see patterns in it
going to track my weight everyday, maybe with withings, but probably with just a traditional scale and a paper/pad in the bathroom. i want this to be the start of my “every day” checklist.
this is foursquare’s third sxsw. shock-and-awe week returns for sxsw 2011. some of the products we’re launching: explore, our integration with american express, many platform partners, a whole slew of badges. our team is also going to be on a whole bunch of panels. and: big boi will play a show at the power plant!
more details here: https://foursquare.com/sxsw/
i’m going to be in tokyo from 17th to 28th december
i haven’t been there since december 2006 (*phew* been working too hard)
i’m excited to go off-grid for a few days. i hope to host a big foursquare meetup (complete with a karaoke outing, of course)
Presented without comment: the full race summary. Well, okay, a few comments. :)
It was definitely one of the best New York moments I’ve ever had and one I will remember for a long time. It was everything you can imagine; everything friends told me it would be. You start your day in Staten Island, cold and excited. Frank Sinatra comes on the loudspeakers singing “New York, New York” and you almost want to cry (don’t worry, this is a common theme throughout in this race). I missed my “start time” so I had to scramble around figuring out which group I wanted to go with next. This means pushing yourself to the front of others and waiting another twenty minutes or so in the cold so you can get into the corral.
Brooklyn goes by incredibly fast: the crowd just pulls you along. You hardly notice that you’re running a race until you get to the Pulaski Bridge. I didn’t really think the course was all that hilly; Queensboro is perhaps the biggest climb and I just took that one slowly. As much as I complain, I think maybe I secretly like hills. It’s also the first time in the race where it gets quiet (very few people watching from the bridge) and you start thinking things like “why am I doing this?” and “oh. my. god. those Kenyans have already finished.” I found out later that this is where Haile (my all-time most favorite runner!) sadly dropped out of the race.
I can’t even tell you how many people I saw cheering – or how many kids I high-fived. And I was incredibly surprised to see lots of friends and family in the crowd: thousands of people and somehow you find each other. I wrote down nine or so locations where friends were camped and stuffed it under my wristband to keep it safe. I made sure to say ‘hi’ and high-five every one of them. Note: a little piece of paper jammed inside your wristband during a race gets really sweaty but is a great thing to save post-race.
I got into a slower pace on First Ave thinking I should just coast and eat and pick it up again post Bronx. Then, at mile nineteen-something, I unexpectedly started getting really tight in my left hamstring. I tried to stretch it out at least eight different stops but to no luck. It wouldn’t go away and just got progressively worse (it eventually moved to the calf) as the miles went on. It was _incredibly_ painful. I’m not going to lie, I definitely wanted to cry, but thought it might not be so cool with 10,000 people and a few cameras watching me. Maybe it was just me, but at the time it felt like I was the slowest kid on the block and it felt like everyone else was running so fast. That made me even sadder. Spectators would shout out words of encouragement like “you’re almost there!” and “come on, you waited so long and trained for this day!” And all I could cough back was “back off, lady! i’m dying here!” (I’m kidding!). I had a lot more time to think about outcomes: a part of me was half-expecting the legs to loosen up so that I could finish strong. There was also a small thought that if it got any worse, I probably would have had to stop because I couldn’t see myself walking through that. I jog-walked (is that a thing? if not, I just made it a thing) the rest of the race.
Oh well, next time. Wait, I can’t believe I’m actually saying that. :)
tomorrow morning, i am going to be running the new york city marathon. it’s my first time running one. i am beyond excited. if you want to come watch or are curious to track me or, later, party:
+ i am #20823
+ i am going to be starting the race at 9:40am
+ if all goes according to plan, i am targeting to finish somewhere faster than 3:40 and 4:00 (sometime after 1pm). keeping the spread huge and vague for you gamblers in the crowd – and i’d better get a cut of your winnings! :)
+ you can track me via the nyrr athlete alert – in email form or via the app
+ i am most likely going to be wearing my signature yellow jersey (unless baby gets too hot, in which case i’ll be in a white shirt with usain bolt on it). i will have my name (“N.A.V.E.E.N.”) on my shirt
+ peep the spectator guide for “viewing” details: the best stretches are on 4th ave in bklyn and 1st and 5th av in manhattan but it’s nice to be near queensboro or on central park south too (so hard!)
+ if you’re going to be standing somewhere else, reply with an intersection: “northeast corner of 68th and 1st”. i’ll write these on my arm and will look out for you. make sure you SCREAM my name so i look out for you!
+ i’m going to be at the equinox at columbus circle after the race and then an after party at destination (most likely), so be on the lookout on twitter for more tomorrow.
oh! and i’m still raising money for campinteractive and just a little shy of my goal. i’d appreciate if you could help and could pass the word! donate here: http://bit.ly/naveenathon
this is a bit of a brain dump of a post (¡que formatting!).
i’ve been talking about the nyc marathon non-stop for the last couple of months.
it’s my first marathon so friends that have run it in the past have offered up good hacks and i figured i should share. i have a pretty good memory but i’m paraphrasing some of these as i don’t remember exact words. but i think the idea from each person comes through with its original meaning.
+ trust me: you’ll want to write your name on your shirt. i still remember when some women in queens yelled out: “GO! NUH-DEE-UH! GO!” (nadia)
+ bring a plastic sheet to sit on in staten island. you have to sit for a long time from the time you arrive to when the race starts and you’ll want to sit down. the grass could be cold and wet and you don’t want soggy bottoms (superkb)
+ bring something warm to wear to staten island. bring an extra sweatshirt to throw on – one that you can then throw away later as you start the race (emilyg)
+ lube up your toes with vaseline (arainert)
+ if you have to run the lower level of the verrazano, try not to run along the edges. some people love to, um, pee off the upper level (gillian)
+ if you really have to, swap clothes in greenpoint (arainert)
+ coming off 59th street is like no other: it’s so quiet as you run that all you hear are each others’ footsteps. all of a sudden you get to 1st avenue and there’s a throng of people cheering and yelling and it’s the loudest thing in the world (dispete)
+ don’t take it too seriously and take it all in. i used to write “smile” on my hand, whenever i got stressed or tired i would remind myself to have fun (dispete)
some of the biggest, but most important, tips come from chad: just have fun with it, high-five some kids. “you’re going to run the greatest race in the world”. he got me these cool tearaways (what up, patrick ewing!) that should come in handy in the morning
the “have your name on your shirt” will go a long way, i think. i remember this trick from high school track: everyone at school knew you and gave you a reason to keep the pace up. there has to something special about having all of new york shout out your name
some others i’d add:
+ wear something nice. haha. (wear something you’re used to running in)
+ don’t bring anything you don’t absolutely need (or bring something you can pass off to a friend in case it gets to be a bother)
+ use anti-chafe and wear bandaids (where? you figure it out!)
+ have someone bring flip flops that you can wear after the race (this is a genius move; you’ll thank me later)
anything else? add them as comments.
i’m still raising money for campinteractive and just a little shy of my goal. i’d love your donation: http://bit.ly/naveenathon
i’m #20823. see you tomorrow morning!
They say that when you write something down, it becomes real and there’s no backing down. Wait – no – is that how it goes?
I’m going to take on my first marathon in November (*gulp* see what I told you? write down == real!). I’m going to be running it in New York City, my hometown, so I guess I won’t have to go far (har har!). I’m equally excited, scared, overwhelmed with emotion just thinking about it. It’s going to be something special to run it in this beautiful city.
I’m running the race with a few friends who you might know: Dennis Crowley, Emily Gannett, Caroline McCarthy, Michelle DeForest, Toby Daniels and a few other new buddies. (Wait, was I supposed to use the oxford comma there? Vampire Weekend: help?).
We’re running on behalf of and raising money for Camp Interactive. CI takes the form of an after-school program to help bring a balance of technology and sports to inner-city kids. I would love if you supported us and then came to cheer and make sure I keep my word. We’re each trying to get $5000 towards the overall team goal and have a little ways to go; I want to crush these goals: http://bit.ly/naveenathon. You know what would be even more awesome? If you passed the word. Otherwise, I’m going to be retweeting myself. :)
I’ve been talking to a few friends that have run it before and they each have some special story to share about the experience. How did they find out I was going to run it, anyway?! There’s no backing away now! I’ve been collecting these and I’m going to write up another post on them in a couple of weeks. (HOT INSIDER TIPS!)
We’re also planning a few surprises for the race and hope to share those with you soon.
In case you missed the fundraise link in the story-time upstairs, see here now: http://bit.ly/naveenathon
It’s been quite the year for foursquare. Last year at this time, Naveen and I – tired of working around my kitchen table – borrowed a desk from our friends at Curbed.com and Hard Candy Shell. Two months later we brought on our first hire (Harry!) and a few weeks after closed on our first round of financing: $1.35m from Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and a handful of angels. Back then, our office looked like this.
Fast forward a year: We’re now 27 people strong. We can’t fit any more desks or chairs in our office so we’re borrowing cubes from our neighbors downstairs. We’re about to hit 1.8 million users and we’re seeing Super Swarms happen all over the world (Indonesia, you crazy!). In short, it’s been an amazing year for foursquare. A huge thank you to anyone that’s ever unlocked a Newbie badge!
And with that, we’re excited to announce that we’ve raised another round of capital. Today we closed on a $20m Series B round with Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures and our newest partner, Andreessen Horowitz. We’re thrilled to have the continued support of our original investors and additional support and expertise from the team at Andreessen Horowitz.
The two big names behind Andreessen Horowitz – Marc Andreessen and Ben Horowitz – are each legends in Silicon Valley. They know better than anyone how to transform startups into successful organizations. As we continue to rapidly expand to take advantage of the opportunities in front of us, Ben and Marc’s expertise in growing companies will be invaluable.
With this new round of financing, our main priority will be to expand our organization to supplement the amazing core team we’ve assembled already (know any great engineers? send them our way!). We’re hoping to build a world-class engineering organization, based primarily in our headquarters in the New York City to help us develop the next generation of mobile + social + local products that will excite our users and provide unique value for local merchants. The new investment capital will also help fund the infrastructure needed to house our team (we’re finally getting a new office!) and support our growing audience of nearly 2m users.
It’s been a crazy year for us and we’re expecting the next 12 months to be even more of an adventure. Look forward to more great product from us soon…
So excited. You don’t even know.
I’ve been wanting to blog about something other than foursquare here, but that’s pretty much all I think about these days. :)
Today, we’re excited to announce that foursquare is available everywhere in the world:
So this has been a pretty big week for us. Since we launched last March, our #1 most requested feature has been “please add my city!” After a few months of work, we thrilled to announce that we finally ripped apart the “foursquare only works in cities” model and replaced it with “foursquare everywhere” – the ability to add places and check-in anywhere in the world.
Read more on the foursquare blog.
After being in this “loose alpha” mode for the last seven months (err, what? :), we’re excited to announce that the foursquare API is now live. I’ve been itching to launch this since May.
We have a new landing page for all dev-related content: http://developer.foursquare.com. We’ve started by highlighting a few of the apps/developers on that page. Eventually, we’d love to have a directory that lists all of your work. If you have any questions or want to write in with comments directly, send a message to email@example.com.
And join the developer mailing list. It’s the best dev list. Ever. Invented.
Why is this important? Please hold. :)
I’m the one on the left, obviously.
harry’s bummed our picture didn’t make the cut. that would have been neat. next time.
I can’t be any more excited about having these guys on board.
A little less than a month ago when we announced that we raised some seed financing from USV and OATV, we alluded to some of the angel investors we also brought onboard. We wanted to take a minute and give a shout-out to our angels and all the support they’ve given us so far.
Jack Dorsey, creator of Twitter.
Twitter has changed the way a lot of us think about things – presence, status, search. Jack’s advice and feedback have already proven to be invaluable as we hustle to improve and grow foursquare.
Kevin Rose, founder of Digg.
A day after we launched at SXSW, Kevin tracked us down and bullied us into making a badge for Digg’s party. Since then he’s been one of our biggest supporters and a great source of advice and product ideas.
Joshua Schachter, founder of Delicious.
Since we’ve launched, people have been describing parts of foursquare as “Delicious for places”. We love this comparison and we’ve been thrilled to have Joshua’s feedback and insight into our product goals.
Alex Rainert, co-founder of Dodgeball.
Very few people understand the mobile/social space as well as Alex. Since our very first iPhone build, he’s been throwing feedback and product suggestions at us. Karen Bonna-Rainert, Alex’s wife and a good friend from Dennis’ grad school days at ITP @ NYU is also actively involved.
SV Angels LLC
The angel group founded and backed by Ron Conway. Ron’s been a major player in seed-stage tech investments since the early days of Google.
Chad Stoller, NYC branding/advertising/interactive superstar.
You can thank Chad for the “mayor” idea – which he demanded we build so he could flaunt his loyalty to Think Coffee. We sold out and wrote the code in exchange for two beers. :)
Sergio Salvatore, long-time music / technology entrepreneur.
A long-time friend of Naveen’s, Sergio’s been advising our team on scaling and technical architecture issues since the early days of foursquare.
I can’t tell you how excited we are to have such a group of superstars behind the things we’re building. Thanks again to everyone involved and to all those who have helped out along the way!
Next week (Sunday, October 4th), I’m going to be riding something like 30 miles for Bike MS. (No way can I handle the 66 or 100!). It’ll be the longest bike ride I’ve ever done–basically it’ll be “interesting” :)
I’ll be out with my buddies Adam, Sean, Catherine, Matias, Mari, … and I’m sure a lot of others.
I’d love your support.
So the news leaked a bit early last week, but we wanted to write up a more ‘formal’ post on foursquare’s seed financing. We couldn’t be any happier with the way it played out — the financing is split between Union Square Ventures (USV), O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures (OATV) and handful of angels. (And we think you’re going to like the angels when we announce them later on, too).
We’re building foursquare because this is what we love doing – building things that make it easier to meet up with friends, building things that make cities easier to use, building things that make random nights more fun. While we have a well defined idea of what direction we’re going and the big ticket items we want to build, we rely heavily on the feedback we receive from you all to help us decide what features to roll out next, what cities we should be launching, and what will make the product better, easier to use and more interesting.
And while this round of financing allows us to make foursquare our full time jobs, we wanted to talk specifically about what all our users should expect to get in return:
+ Better Reliability. This weekend was a disaster :) While we were migrating to a new database and switching domain names (did you notice we grabbed foursquare.com? :), the news of our financing leaked out and crushed us. Over the past few weeks, we’ve been quietly re-writing a lot of our server architecture in an effort to prevent crashes like this from happening in the future and to make our platform much more flexible for adding new features / game mechanics / badges, etc. The financing allowed us to bring on Harry about a month ago, and with any luck, we’ll be bringing on a fourth soon.
+ A Better Product in General. There’s a lot of things that are a little wonky with foursquare right now – the UI behind “tips” needs some love; We don’t handle chain-restaurants and duplicates very well; We have some issues with people trying to game the leaderboard. With a two person team, we’ve struggled to keep up with all of your feature suggestions and bug reports. With a few more folks all working together, you’re really going to start to see us getting things done.
+ BlackBerry app! Yes, it’s in development. :) As soon as we felt good about the financing going thru, we hired our friend Pete to start working on it. Give us another few weeks (the demo already looks really hot!)
+ More cities. Our most requested “feature” is to bring foursquare to more cities. Starting tomorrow (!!) with Vancouver we’re going to experiment with “crowdsourcing” new cities – allowing users to populate city listings instead of relying solely on third party data providers. If this works the way we think it may, the plan is to expand to cities all over the world.
+ The API. Both the Android app (which is amazing, right?) and SocialGreat were built on top of our API (currently in private beta). Soon we’ll open this for everyone to play with and we’re looking forward to seeing what people come up with.
+ Venue Outreach. Some of the most interesting things we’re seeing with foursquare are coming from venues reaching out to their customers. From free drinks to free hotel stays, we’ve been consistently surprised with how clever venues have been at co-opting foursquare as their own. With the help of our friend Tristan Walker at Stanford (@tristanwalker), we’ll be exploring more ways foursquare can work with local businesses. If this is something your cafe / coffee shop / bar / restaurant is interested in, ping us!
And that’s about it for now. Again, we can’t be any more excited about building foursquare going forward and we’re thankful for all the help and support we’ve had along the way (that includes everyone reading this!). A special thanks to everyone who’s been with us since SXSW and stuck with us thru all our scaling woes (is there a badge for that?)… and here’s to 1000 good things looking forward,
- dens / naveen / harryh
I say turn your health into a social game like Foursquare. Check in when you take your meds, go to the gym, walk to work, and eat like Michael Pollan. Tie this to your insurance premiums. In fact, I say turn life into one big game with various levels. Make the mundane fun. We’ve got the beginnings of the technology to do it. And I’m glad there are people like Dennis and Naveen who are there to show us how it’s done.
“I can never read all the books I want; I can never be all the people I want and live all the lives I want. I can never train myself in all the skills I want. And why do I want? I want to live and feel all the shades, tones and variations of mental and physical experience possible in life. And I am horribly limited.”
- Sylvia Plath
I went to Beijing a few years ago for work and found time on the side to do some exploring. I had a lot of trouble speaking Chinese — mainly because I don’t know Chinese. :) Beijing is a large city. It was hard to expect every cab driver to know each and every small street. Every morning I would leave my hotel and have the concierge tell the cab driver where to take me. But what to do after a long night out when it came time to come back to the hotel? Luckily for me, the hotel business cards had a small map on the back side. No matter where I ended up in the city, when it came time to go home, I would take out my card and point it at the driver. And so found my way back home.
Why do I blog this? I was recently thinking about how locators worked before we all had something digital in our hands. Sometimes, we don’t need anything fancy to find our way, just a single flat structure that says “this is home”. Timo has a good collection of locators called “Here“.