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Posts Tagged ‘Foursquare’

Article from On Startups – The Community For Entrepreneurs.

Hey Everyone,

As you might know, besides writing as a co-author for Onstartups, I’ve been writing a book over the past year. It’s basically the book every entrepreneur should have starting out to find cofounders, get press, acquire customers, and raise funding. It’s based upon case studies from companies like Twitter, Dropbox, and Foursquare. The book comes out tomorrow, but I’m giving the book away for free today to read online at http://www.theultralightstartup.com (you can read it just like a blog or from your iPad like an app). If you don’t get a chance to finish it today or want to support the book, you can always keep it forever by buying it at https://bitly.com/theultralightstartup . Thank you again for being a great community to inspire my writing and the book.

Posted By Jason L. Baptiste

 

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Article from SFGate.

“If Facebook is like hanging out at a banquet with a large buffet to feast on, then social network Path is an intimate dinner with close friends. Path is now getting new silverware and table decorations, so to speak, with the release of updated software.

CEO Dave Morin, a Facebook alum, says the dinner-party philosophy remains but users can now share their comings and goings with up to 150 friends, up from the original 50.

With the new version available this week, a year after its debut, Path aims to be more than a sharing application. It wants to be a digital journal that documents your days with a push of a button.

Morin describes it as “a slightly social experience.” You’re not just updating it to share your day with others; you’re recording your life for yourself.

“The idea has always been to give you a trusted place to share with your close friends and family,” Morin said. “Now that the (mobile phone) is the accessory you have in your hand all the time, it’s become a journal.”

Path began as an iPhone application for sharing photos and videos. Users later got the ability to add one of five emoticons to their friends’ photos.

The new version lets users post music and tell everyone where they are, with whom and whether they are awake or asleep. It’s also compatible with Android-running phones for the first time. And, it includes technology that allows the application to make updates on its own, as long as the user agrees to it, or opts in.

For example, if you fly to Minneapolis, the application can track you with GPS and post this when you land: “Arrived in Minneapolis, it’s 6:06 p.m. Mostly cloudy and 50 degrees.” The location updates are neighborhood and city specific but will not pin an actual location.

Morin says the auto-updates make it easier for users to share richer content without much effort. And, while the details may seem personal, your network is only of close friends and family.

The update retains strict privacy controls, which Morin says is key to making people comfortable with sharing, especially in the wake of high-profile debates over privacy issues at Facebook.

On Tuesday, the government announced a proposed settlement with Facebook over “unfair and deceptive” business practices. The pact requires the company to get people’s approval before changing how it shares their data.

The new version of Path integrates larger social networks Facebook, Twitter and Foursquare, allowing status updates to those sites from the Path application.

Morin says the San Francisco-based startup has enough funding for its next stage and just hired its 20th employee. Path has more than 1 million users.”

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Article from Techcrunch.

“There’s no doubt that as smartphone usage increases, geo-location is becoming an increasingly important technology in consumers’ day to day lives. The Pew Internet Research Project has come out with a new report showing the growing number of U.S. adults that are leveraging location-based technologies in social and mobile apps. According to Pew, 28% of adults use at least one of location-based service that exist in mobile and social media spaces. The report shows the most popular use case of location-based technology is using mobile phones for maps, directions, or recommendations.

Pew reports that 28% of cell owners use phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location (that works out to 23% of all U.S. adults). Only 5 percent of cell phone owners user their phone to check-in to locations using apps like Foursquare or Gowalla.

And 9% of internet users incorporate their location into Facebook, Twitter, or LinkedIn (7% of all adults). And 28% of U.S. adults do at least one of these activities either on a computer or using their mobile phones.

Unsurprisingly, smartphone owners are more likely to use location-based social networks on their phones. One in ten smartphone owners (12%) have used Foursquare, Gowalla, or a similar application and 55% of smartphone owners have used a location-based information service. Almost six in ten smartphone owners (58%) use at least one of these services.

Pew says that younger smartphone owners are more likely to use location-based services in their phone. And Pew says that geosocial services and automatic location-tagging are most popular with minorities. A quarter (25%) of Latino smartphone owners using geosocial services and almost a third (31%) of Latino social media users enabling automatic location-tagging. Pew says that only 7% of white smartphone owners use geosocial services, byt 59% get location-based information on their phones, compared with 53% of blacks and only 44% of Hispanics.

Pew reported nearly a year ago that only 4% of online American adults use location-based services. My guess is that number has increased since last Novemeber.”

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Article from SFGate.

“Many of today’s hot startups are banking on mobile ad dollars to make their business work, but it’s an incredibly small market that’s only likely to support a handful of breakaway winners.

The constraint was underscored late last week, when Pandora Media’s CEO told Bloomberg that the online radio service can’t find enough marketers to fill all the ad slots created by its many mobile users.

Pandora boasts around 35 million dedicated users, who do 60 percent of their listening over smart phones and tablets. The obvious question is: If the 11-year-old Oakland company can’t find enough marketers to make use of its ad inventory, who can?

Other popular companies like Foursquare, Instagram, Twitter and Flipboard are mostly or exclusively free mobile apps that will mostly or exclusively depend on advertising.

So just how much is there to go around?

Research firm eMarketer estimates that mobile advertising will reach only $1.1 billion this year. By way of comparison, Google reported $9 billion in revenue last quarter alone, almost entirely derived from the broader online advertising market.

Will more money move to mobile and will some of these companies emerge as big winners? Sure.

Shifting ad dollars

But new media don’t create new marketing dollars, they just draw them from somewhere else. Advertisers are famously reluctant to shift money from something that’s been proven to work, to an area that’s untested.

The truth is, it’s still unclear to many what ad types and formats will be most effective on small mobile devices – general brand builders, discounts as you walk by a restaurant, ads for other apps?

The one thing that does seem clear is that mobile users are incredibly touchy about ads, resenting anything that appropriates the limited real estate of their screen, arrives as a text that counts against their allotment or interrupts what they’re doing. So marketers are rightfully treading carefully.

Jack Gold, a technology analyst with J. Gold Associates, says mobile advertising is a promising sector that, for now, is just that: promising.

The other thing to keep in mind is that, whether it’s TV or tablets, the biggest outlets with the best return on ad dollars grab the lion’s share of marketing. Everyone else is left fighting for the scraps.

Gold said the phenomenon unfolding now is strikingly similar to the late 1990s, as hordes of companies marched onto the Internet, confident they could garner the traffic (back then they called it eyeballs) necessary to build businesses on ads alone. History demonstrated in brutal fashion that the vast majority could not.

“It’s almost certain that you’re going to see another shakeout,” Gold said. “That always happens. Always.”

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Article from GigaOM

“Foursquare has raised $50 million in a new funding round led by venture capital firm Andreessen-Horowitz, the company announced Friday. This latest batch of funding brings Foursquare’s total venture capital investment to just over $70 million.

The New York City-based startup, which provides a service that allows users to share their current location with friends, plans to put the money toward hiring more engineers, developing more offerings for merchants, and expanding internationally, co-founders Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai wrote in a company blog post announcing the new funding. The blog post reads: “The opportunity to build something meaningful in the location space is HUGE [emphasis theirs], and we feel well-positioned to capitalize on it.”

Foursquare has grown by leaps and bounds since its launch in March 2009. The company, which is set to open a new San Francisco office this month, says it currently has more than 10 million users and more than 70 employees. With a growing list of solid competitors in the location-based social networking space — think Facebook and Google, as well as an ever-expanding list of smaller apps such as Trover — the new backing will certainly come in handy as Foursquare works to keep its edge.”

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Article from GigaOm.

“Originally, Foursquare was designed with the goal of “making cities easier to use.” But along the way, it became synonymous with check-ins and the game mechanics behind it. That was a good thing when it was new, unique and fun. But the world has moved on, and so have location competitors, who are looking beyond simple games to expanded deals, bigger competition and recommendations of places. Foursquare is now taking a big leap ahead in its story with version 3.0 as it matures into a much more complete and polished location-based service capable of tackling its original vision.

Founder and CEO Dennis Crowley said in a blog post that the service is now closing in on 7.5 million users after adding about 7 million since last year’s annual South By Southwest event. Users checked in almost half a billion times in the last year. That’s a lot of check-ins, but Crowley rightly understands that the check-in is just a starting place. Now with Foursquare 3.0, available tonight on iPhone and Android, the company has made strides on a number of fronts that should keep it at the front of the location pack.

Interestingly, many of the updates put the focus back on check-ins, but infuse the action with much more meaning. Now users have more reasons to check in to places, instead of just broadcasting their location. Here’s a look at the improvements:

Discovery. Foursquare has been talking about offering recommendation services, just like many competitors, and now with a new Explore tab, users can get suggestions on where to go. The recommendations factor in a bunch of signals, from the places a user and their friends visit and favorite, to the categories and types of places they frequent. Interestingly, Foursquare said it will also tailor suggestions based on the day of the week or time of day. Crowley said the recommendation engine will shine with both basic and quirky inquiries. This is likely why the company was casting about for a data scientist a little while back: so it could build a recommendation engine that made use of all of its data. The Explore feature brings Foursquare up to par with many competitors, though as we’re learning, there are many ways to do recommendations. The Explore feature also puts more emphasis on the check-in, because it helps provide Foursquare with more data to build its recommendations.

Rewards. Foursquare was out early with its game mechanics, but the system has become stale for some time. Now, Foursquare is revamping its leaderboard, awarding points for a wider range of activities. Users can get points for trying a new type of restaurant, visiting a new place, traveling to new cities, getting friends together and many other actions. The leaderboard is now limited to the last seven days. This again re-emphasizes check-ins, because the system rewards a lot of different activities. And the week-long time frame encourages people to keep trying out new things and remaining active. There are still mayorships, which are increasingly hard to get. But with a revamped leaderboard, users have more ways to compete and get recognized for their efforts.

Loyalty. Keeping users engaged is paramount for a service like Foursquare, which can burn through new users if it doesn’t give them a reason to stick around. Now the site is expanding its specials deals for mayors to more sets of people, enabling merchants to engage with customers in a lot more ways. Merchants can now extend specials to swarms, groups of friends, regular visitors, new customers, mayors or to everyone. This is an important element, because it gives people some tangible benefits of participating. Points and mayorships only work for more motivated users, but deals are always attractive.

Foursquare got out early in the location game, but in many ways, it was in need of improvements befitting its status. Crowley said many upgrades didn’t take place as fast as he’d like, because the company had to deal with a lot of internal growth as it increased its headcount to about 40 people. Now, finally, Foursquare’s larger vision is starting to take shape, and it’s a good thing. The company is showing no signs of slowing growth, but the name of the game is engagement, not just downloads. I have no insight into Foursquare’s churn, but it’s a definite concern for any app with a large following like this. Now with some key improvements, Foursquare has a chance to keep those users engaged and grow into something more useful than a real-world game.

UPDATE: Foursquare has provided more information about its updated specials program, which now allows merchants to instantly set up special deals at multiple locations for users and get additional insight into user engagement through a new dashboard. Early partners include Sports Authority, Applebee’s, Radio Shack, Barnes & Noble, Chili’s, Whole Foods, Toys R Us and others.”

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Article from NyTimes.

“With Facebook’s membership approaching 600 million, and more features and apps continually being added to the site, it sometimes seems as if it’s the only social network around. But it’s not the only one, even if it’s dominant. Specialized networks are catching on with users who prefer a more focused way to share photos, videos or music, or who simply don’t want everyone on Facebook looking at their pictures.

Some of these networks leverage the existing huge audiences of Facebook or Twitter to let their users reach the maximum number of friends. But if you’re worried about Facebook’s potential privacy holes and want to steer clear of them, there’s a network for that, too.

INSTAGRAM Instagram, a photo-sharing network based around a free app for Apple’s iPhone, is the breakout hit of specialty social networks. The service, which was introduced in October, says that more than a million users have already signed up.

Instagram’s secret weapon is its built-in photo filters, which modify your pictures before you upload them. Some effects are corny, but some — like the sepia-inspired Early Bird filter or the soft-color Toaster — work wonders at removing the often harsh lighting and jarring colors of cellphone photos. With the help of the filters, the images may look better than those uploaded to other social sites, like Facebook.

Davin Bentti, a software engineer in Atlanta, uses Instagram to control where he posts photos.

“Instagram lets me share photos on Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Posterous, Tumblr and Foursquare,” he said. “When I take a photo, I can put it everywhere without having to think much about it. But I can also put it only where I want it to go.”

For example, Mr. Bentti said, he skipped Twitter when posting a recent photo of his dog, because his Twitter followers are mostly professional colleagues.

To get started, download the free Instagram iPhone app, and sign up for an account. If you own an Android phone, be patient; an app for that operating system is in the works, the company said.

To find friends to share your photos with, start the app and tap the Profile option at the bottom right of its screen. Instagram offers several ways to find people: log in to Facebook or Twitter to see lists of your friends there who are already signed up with Instagram; search your phone’s contact list to match the e-mail addresses with existing users; send invitations to those in your contact list who have not yet signed up; search Instagram’s database of users and usernames; browse a list of suggested users whom the company has deemed worth following for their photos.

“We don’t see ourselves as an alternative” to Facebook, said Kevin Systrom, Instagram’s chief executive. “We see ourselves as a complement, to allow for sharing on multiple networks, all at once.”

PATH Path, a photo and video sharing network, also sees itself as an enhancement to Facebook; users can log in to Facebook to find Path users to share with. But Path limits the sharing to 50 friends at most, rather than with everyone you know. And you can’t post your Path photos to Facebook itself. Your friends need to check their Path app or Path’s Web site to see your images.”

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