Foursquare Gets $41 Million in Funding to Help Build the ‘Location Layer for the Internet,’ Better MonetizeBy: Josh Wolford - April 11, 2013
Foursquare has announced that the company has secured $41 million in funding from private equity firm Silver Lake Waterman, as well as existing investors Andreessen Horowitz, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Spark Capital, and Union Square Ventures.
CEO Dennis Crowley announced the funding Thursday morning.
“The stuff we’re building takes a lot of work. Look at yesterday’s big update, for example. The most amazing thing about it is that it tells you interesting things around you, anywhere in the world, the second you open the app. That’s not easy. We have to crunch your 3,500,000,000 check-ins, layer your social data over it, semantically analyze our tens of millions of tips, and take a look at real-time activity around you. We do all that in under a second, all to recommend two or three places that are perfect for you,” says Crowley.
“We’ve got a ton left to do. We’re building tools for local businesses to connect with their customers. We’re making search better, every single day. We’re building that location layer for the internet – the platform that all other companies use to power location in their apps. This takes time and a lot of work, and great investors.”
On Wednesday, Foursquare launched version 6.0, a significant update to both their iOS and Android platforms that puts local search and recommendations front and center. This update is more in line with the vision that Crowley has for the service – to move well beyond the check-in.
And along with the stated goals of expanding the service and building better tools, you know that Foursquare has to now focus more on monetization.
According to Bloomberg, Foursquare is planning on a whole new slew of ad partnerships, letting every merchant it works with buy ads. They’ll also be expanding their sales team to around 40 people. Foursquare has had ads for a while in the form of sponsored location posts inside the feed and in search results in the app. But they haven’t really taken off, with reports alleging Foursquare only generated about $2 million in revenue last year.
The majority of this $41 million comes in the form of a multiyear loan from Silver Lake, and everything else is convertible debt which can be exchanged for shares later. Taking on this debt allows Foursquare to buy itself some time to figure out how to monetize.
According to Crowley, 1.3 million businesses and 33 million users have “given a try” to Foursquare.