SMW 2011: Dennis Crowley of Foursquare, "We Threw 10 Things on the Wall and it all stuck"

Dennis Crowley of Foursquare gave a keynote today in New York for Social Media Week 2011 and explained the evolution of mobile checking in “we listened to our users early on…essentially we threw 10 things against the wall to see what would stick and it all stuck.” Austin Carr of Fast Company interviewed the CEO of the mobile checking-in application that has closed $21.4MM in funding since its launch in 2009. The inspiration was to get people more active in everyday life. Crowley attributed its virality to the multiple use cases for Foursquare and how anyone of any age can find different uses for it. A recent example is “Super Bowl Sunday” check in. There was lots of mention of events in the future, not just physical locations but almost state-of-mind like events.

An audience member asked how Crowley felt about barcodes and scanning icons while at locations and he didn’t express interest for scanning features in the future. Nick O’Neill once ranted about why he “doesn’t check-in” which is worth a read of the opposite perspective, however at Social Media Week it has become almost a staple of how to navigate all the events. Nokia even team up with SocialMediaWeek.org to make an app for coordination between the hundreds of events this week in NYC.

The true prize on the horizon seemed to be SXSW. While only a few hands went up for people who plan to attend, he encouraged the audience to make it out “we have some big stuff planned.” Game mechanics guide Foursquare’s build out and future building. Crowley sees badges as incentivizing consumers, especially power users but he mentioned moving towards rewarding new users and encouraging discovery.

When asked about the ecosystem Crowley talked about decisions that were challenging early and how choosing to build the API before Android was on the scene was responsible for the fast growth. While there have been concerns before about privacy Crowley takes a pro-consumer approach about taking metrics recycling data FOR users. Overall great strategy, it will be interesting to see the partnerships that flourish from Foursquare in the next few weeks before SXSW.

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