Foursquare has taken its fair share of flak lately, as the company rolls into its fourth year in business. Some claim the company’s userbase had stagnated; others claim that the company lacks a sustainable business model.
After denying the negative user base claims earlier today, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley went on clarify that they do have a business model in place — in fact, March was their biggest revenue month to date.
I think there are a lot of people that think we don’t know how to generate revenue, that we aren’t generating revenue. This is wrong… We’ve been building merchant tools all along. We’ve seen revenue growth every month, and March was our biggest revenue month so far.
As for how that revenue is coming in:
We’re signing six-figure deals with national merchants. We’ve already got a million merchants claiming their business page — we can just say ‘Would you like to spend $50, $100 dollars to drive X number people into your store?” These aren’t just ad impressions they’re paying for. We only count when we actually bring people into your store.
Alas, Dennis declined to comment on just how much total revenue Foursquare expects to see in 2013.
“We’re a private company, so we don’t have to disclose our master plans to you” he said, “but we’ve set ambitious goals for the year, and we’re very much on target to hit them.”
“The numbers aren’t huge yet, but they’re starting to come together.” he added. “The smartest people we talk to… they can understand what we’re doing. There’s a reason that all four of our original investors are back in.”
But what’s Foursquare’s long-term goal here? Will they eventually go public? Will they sell?
We never really comment on exit strategy. The way we think about it: we spent 4 years building an amazing company. While we’re still working out exactly what this product can do, we’re in this sweet spot where people are finally building this hardware that you wear on your wrist, that you wear on your face. [That's perfect for us.] We can continue to operate as an independent company.
Of course, talk of increasing revenue won’t really change the public perception of Foursquare, which has seemingly soured in the past few months. Crowley attributed the recent flack they’ve taken to the idea that Foursquare is going through a “hazing stage” — the same hazing, he says, that companies like Facebook and Twitter had to go through — with the most vocal hazers basing their views on out-of-date perceptions:
I think there’s a lot of people that still think of us as the 2009 Foursquare, with points and badges. We still have those things, but the biggest haters are the same people who haven’t opened the app in 6 months. The stuff we’re doing now — [the social algorithms, the predictive functionality] — it’s rocket science.