Geo-networking apps on mobile phones are scorching right now as everyone is trying draft off FourSquare. Today, Foursquare competitor Gowalla raised an $8.4 million Series B round, led by Greylock Partners. Reid Hoffman, who is now a partner at Greylock, will take an observer seat on Gowalla’s board. Another Greylock partner, David Thacker (an Austin, TX-native like Gowalla itself) is joining their board of directors.
Other new investors include Shasta Ventures, Maples Investments, Ron Conway, Kevin Rose, Gary Vaynerchuk, Shervin Pishevar, Jason Calacanis and Chris Sacca. Previous investors the Founders Fund and Alsop-Louie Partners put in more money as well. The Austin-based startup has now raised a total of about $10 million since it was founded in 2007. (Foursquare has only raised $1.35 million and the former Googlers who run it have declined offers from VCs to put in more cash).
Since the public launch of Gowalla’s service just ten weeks ago, 50,000 people have signed up and checked into 150,000 locations in over 7,500 cities worldwide. The company is currently seeing 20,000 check-ins daily. Like Foursqaure, you check in at places you want your friends to know you are at, and then they can see where you are and join you if they are nearby. But Gowalla pulls the actual GPS coordinates instead of relying on users to tell the app where they are. Gowalla also has its own gaming elements, including the introduction of GPS-aware virtual goods which can only be picked up at certain locations. These could form the basis for a business model similar to FourSquare’s around for location-based coupons, promotions, and marketing.