Foursquare CEO: Facebook and Google Are Not Your Friends and Are After Domination

Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck said in an interview that "Facebook and Google are not your friends, they're unreliable partners and are after domination." He added in a blog post, "That’s why we’re bu...
Foursquare CEO: Facebook and Google Are Not Your Friends and Are After Domination
Written by Rich Ord
  • Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck said in an interview that “Facebook and Google are not your friends, they’re unreliable partners and are after domination.” He added in a blog post, “That’s why we’re building a company that stands apart from Google and Facebook as the most trusted, independent platform for understanding location.”

    Glueck also announced the first close of a new round of $33 million of equity funding led by strategic investors Simon Ventures and Naver Corp. and by Union Square Ventures. He says that the first close of $25 million occurred on Friday and that he anticipates a secondary close of at least $8 million by year’s end.

    Jeff Glueck, CEO of Foursquare, spoke about the new funding and how they were going to use it in their quest to “become the location layer of the internet” on CNBC:

    Foursquare is Really the Location Layer of the Internet

    Foursquare is really the location layer of the Internet. This round led by Simon Ventures is really gonna give us the fuel to continue investing. If you think about the location features on your phone, most of the time they’re powered by Foursquare technology. If you get a Snapchat geofilter, if you type a place into Uber,  if you get matched on Tinder to people who like the same places, those are all examples of Foursquare technology at work.

    Foursquare Helping Companies Take on the Amazon’s of the World

    With this round of financing we’re going to take that into the retail world, into the dining world, and into the general media publishing world to bring location technology to bear. Foursquare helps media companies and brands and apps create location features. The examples of our customers are like Apple and Microsoft the like but 90 percent of commerce still happens in the real world.

    For all the attention on Amazon and what Jeff Bezos said, Amazon is just 4 percent of consumer spending. Over 90 percent takes place in the in the real world including grocery, auto, and retail. We want to help those companies prepare to take on the Amazon’s of the world and that’s what we’re doing.

    We help marketers reach people based on where they go in the real world, measure whether it leads people into the stores. We help apps be contextually aware so that when you walk into the store if there’s an offer you’re aware.

    We Started as a Consumer App so 100% of What We Do is Opt-In

    We started as a consumer app, so we think about privacy and enhancing consumer experiences with everything we do, so 100 percent of what we do is consumer opt-in. For instance, a lot of the apps that use us they say would you like to opt into background location to be to be alerted when you’re near a service or a special offer, about 60 or 70 percent of people choose to participate and about 30 to 40 percent don’t.

    Everything we do is anonymized or aggregated. For instance, the data goes into a panel of over 25 million phones that we see always on and that creates a kind of Nielsen panel of the real world foot traffic. We were able to, for instance, predict the Chipotle sales famously we’re going to be down 30 percent before they announced their earnings. At an aggregate level, no one’s worried about privacy.

    Everything We Do is Designed to Create Value for Users

    Everything we do is designed to create value for the users. We’re not helping some flashlight app ask you for your always-on location. What good is that to you? We’re helping pair people in dating based on their favorite places. We’re helping to deliver contextually aware weather alerts for AccuWeather. Hey, you’re at the stadium and rain is about to happen.

    All the cases where we make the experiences better the users opt-in because it makes the experience better. In a world where you don’t want to open a lot of apps, you want the app to tap you on the shoulder at the right time to remind you that you have a chance to get 50% off, or there’s a weather alert, or you’re near a friend. All these things are really valuable. Apple already reminds people that you’re opted into location sharing. It’s actually the part of the ad tech ecosystem that is doing shoddy things that we don’t think are best practice in privacy that I think will be heard over time. Why should a location be on for your flashlight app?

    We are the independent Switzerland. If you think about Facebook and Google, there are only three companies in the world that can understand when a phone moves out of your pocket moves out of 100 million businesses in over 170 countries, that’s Google, Facebook, and Foursquare. We are the independent option.

    Facebook and Google Are Not Your Friends and are After Domination

    Our customers, which include folks like Apple and Microsoft and Tencent and Twitter and Snapchat and on and on. They look to us as an independent company. Facebook and Google are not your friends, they’re unreliable partners and are after domination. We are the Switzerland and I do think the location space needs a public independent company at some point that has the wherewithal to invest in pushing location technology.

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