What’s the hardest part of building a hot startup? In Part II of his Founder Stories interview, Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley tells Chris Dixon it’s not building the product, it’s building the company that builds the product. The product is easy. Crowley and his team have been thinking about the product for years. “The hard part is building the machine that builds the product,” he says.
Foursquare has grown from 2 to 50 people, moved into bigger offices, and had to build a backend system that can support millions of users. But all of that was behind the scenes. “This is our year to build all the stuff we have been thinking about,” he declares.
Dixon starts off this clip asking why Crowley decided to build Foursquare in New York City instead of Silicon Valley Moving to California was simply never on “the roadmap.” Crowley also thinks “the product is better because it is in New York. San Francisco can feel very early-adopterish.” And while New York users can also be faddish, “not everyone works in technology,” so startups can get a more diverse set of early users. Crowley credits Google’s efforts to build a New York City presence with 2,000 engineers as an inflection point in the city’s startup eco-system because it attracted a lot of the right types of engineers (focused on the consumer Internet instead of Wall Street).
Crowley also discusses how he thinks about fundraising and acquisition offers. It’s all about getting the company in the best position to build the product. “We have these things in our head and we just want to get them built,” he says. “We are trying to make the moves that put the company in the best position to do what we want to do.” Why is Foursquare going it alone? “We just ultimately decided we should continue working on this,” he explains, “because the kernel of what we are doing is different than everything else that is out there. So we should ride this as far as we can and see where we can take it.”