Foursquare Checks In

Today Foursquare announced that it has raised $41 million coming from its existing investors (including USV) and adding Silver Lake's Waterman Fund. This puts the company in a great position to continue executing at the intersection of local, mobile and social. That opportunity today is larger and clearer than ever before as smartphone adoption has skyrocketed and the couponing craze has abated.

As an avid user of Foursquare though what's more exciting is the latest Foursquare experience which is now available on both iOS and Android. The latest releases put search and discovery right on top with a prominent search box. This past Sunday, my wife Susan and I went to an outdoor furniture store in Soho which promptly turned out to be closed. I pulled up Foursquare, typed furniture into the search box and got an awesome map of results around me and we wound up visiting five stores, four of which I had never even heard of before (here is the web version of that search although your/logged out results will be different from mine).

Foursquare is leveraging billions of checkins to power these search results and customize them for individual users. The app now also surfaces interesting location context right on the home screen. This could be news about a restaurant that has just opened or places nearby that are of interest. During development the Foursquare team referred to these internally as "radar cards" and the name is apropos. It really is like having a personal radar that lets you see through buildings and around corners to get a complete context for the location you are in. That experience too is tailored to you personally which makes it feel quite magical.

The next few months will see further enhancement to the many ways in which Foursquare can be used. A little while back the company introduced the ability to link credit cards to one's foursquare account. These cards can then be used to seamlessly redeem specials. The number of specials available for "load-to-card" redemption will grow significantly in the coming months and will eventually be available to all businesses through a self service solution. Unlike any other solution, this does not involve showing your phone to a waiter or someone at checkout. You simply pay and any promotion is applied back to your card.

So if you have never tried out Foursquare, or used it some time back and stopped, now is a great time to give it a whirl. You can even get started by just doing a search on the web, but it is the native mobile experience where the new and improved Foursquare really shines.

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