Foursquare Realises It’s Time To Change

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A few months ago we were writing about how a million dollar funded company wasn’t realising the mere fact that they were developing a feature and not a product. We are talking about Foursquare, which in the past months has struggled to raise more money and keep their users engaged with the service. Although the product has raised $162M in funding, that wasn’t enough to build a sustainable one and the only thing they had left to survive was a pivot.

Pivoting might sound something bad, but it could be the most beneficial thing your company has ever faced. Foursquare realised that checking in was something that services such as Facebook and Twitter can implement, which turns to be a mere feature of a larger social network. That’s why they have decided to split their app in two.

The new app that Foursquare is announcing is called Swarm, which will be focused on the social side of what the Foursquare app was. Although the app is not available yet, according to Dennis Crowley, CEO of Foursquare, Swarm has taken inspiration from Instant Messenger. On the other hand, Foursquare will be completely redesigned, and the checkin button will be trashed once for all. The new Foursquare app will be focusing on discovery and exploration.

Foursquare is at a crucial point, this is the time to see if millions of dollars in funding will be wasted, or the geniality of Dennis Crowley and his team will be able to bring Foursquare to the next level. The split isn’t what we were expecting, since we thought Foursquare could have pivoted in a smaller company that was providing a service to bigger social networks. However it makes perfectly sense in terms of what Foursquare was.

What the team is trying to do is splitting the double side of the experience that you can have on Foursquare. The first one is the social one, where you can follow and share your location with the people you care about. That’s what Swarm will try to implement. It seems very similar to what Highlight is or aims to be. It’s not the first time that a company makes another attempt to win the “social-location based” market.

On the other hand, Foursquare will pivot into the second side, which is the discovery one. Since the company has now the technology to track the user, understand its habits and tastes, there is no need to have the checkin button anymore. The app will automatically understand you from the way you live. By gathering all this information, the company will be able to show the right things at the right time.

Splitting means dividing the team, using different resources and being able to coordinate both under one single lead. The question is if Dennis Crowley will be capable of doing it. The idea of rebranding with a different name, with the drive of a company (not a startup), will probably give a big push to Swarm; but the final call will be taken by the users, which seem not to like social location based apps.

Edoardo Moreni

Blogger, Political Activist, Computer Scientist and Italian.