After speaking on a panel Wednesday at TechCrunch Disrupt with Facebook’s Chris Cox and Google’s Vic Gundotra, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley sat down with our own Evelyn Rusli for a backstage video interview.
It is clear that he feels Foursquare is still in its infancy and still has a long way to go. “The products is 10% of what it needs to be,” he says. “Look at the stuff we are doing with game mechanics, it is 1.0 game mechanics.” Where does he see it going? The badges, points, and Mayorships that people acquire by using Foursquare increasingly will be used to “unlock free goods” in real places like restaurants and stores.
“The game mechanics are there to grab a user’s hand and bring them through the experience,” says Crowley, “but it is not the meat of the service. The meat of the service is the social utility that we are building. A lot of that going forward is taking the user’s history, like all of the check-in information we get from them, and then recycling that data by giving it back to them in the form of recommendations and tips on what they should be doing next.” The idea of getting real-world recommendations based on the places you and your friends visit is akin to taking Amazon book recommendations or Netflix movie recommendations and applying that kind of collaborative filtering to the real world.
Crowley believes Foursquare’s competitive advantage is that it has been working on the problem for so long, and that it is built for New York City, which is a “really hard city to design for.” Another advantage is Foursquare’ check-in model. As he told Beet.TV in another video interview at Disrupt, the entire service is built around the check-in as opposed to throwing it in as an afterthought.
But the check-ins and the badges are the means to an end, not the end itself. Explains Crowley: “We have a very specific roadmap about changing the way people interact with physical space. It is not just about the check-in. It is what happens after that.”