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  1. NEWS Digital NAVEEN SELVADURAI co-founder, Foursquare “The end goal is to get all this great data and use MICHAEL SHARON product manager, Facebook Places “It’s a way for you to capture these memories it for good, to lead in your life, keep these markers in a timeline Location Services: Let Battle Commence people to better experiences.” that you’ll go back and look at in 20 or 30 years and say, Foursquare aims to see off Facebook with new version ‘I remember that day By Brian Morrissey so clearly.’” What icon did Facebook choose in August for the service: discovering new places. the five things I should go see,” said Selvadurai. its long-awaited Places location product? A four Naveen Selvadurai, one of the co-founders Many observers feel the update is long over- inside a square of course. The underlying mes- of Foursquare, said the system aims to be like due. Foursquare last updated its service in Sep- sage seemed clear: The Silicon Valley jugger- the collaborative filtering that’s a hallmark of tember and now needs to work more on the naut was gunning for the darling of the New Netflix and Amazon. Those services crunch “why” of the service, according to Sapient’s head York tech scene, Foursquare. behavior data—what movies you watch and of social marketing, Nathaniel Perez. The problem The question now is whether scrappy books you read—to suggest new products. is Foursquare’s impressive user growth pales in Foursquare, with 40 employees and $20 million in Foursquare wants to do the same, only with rec- comparison to the half billion people using Face- venture capital backing, can hold off the Facebook ommendations of real-world activities. It now book. If someone wants to check in to connect behemoth. Foursquare is currently testing the plans to tweak the game mechanics to make with friends, why not use Facebook, where their biggest overhaul yet of the check-in service which them more personalized in challenging users to friends are? It’s a critical step as Foursquare co- is now used by 5 million people. The update, which do new things that matter most to them. founder Dennis Crowley admitted last week at a should go live around New Year, will downplay “If it knows enough about me in one city, it conference; the check-in itself is “not interesting.” game features like the leaderboard, mayors and should be able to As it steps further into utility, Foursquare will badges and will emphasize the ultimate utility of give me a map of find itself firmly on Facebook’s turf. Facebook 2004 2010 Crowley takes Frank Sharon leads Lantz’s “Big Games” 2007 Crowley leaves the launch of class, which builds Facebook 2002 Pac-Manhattan, a 2005 Google and joins 2007 2008 Kevin Slavin at Places. Dennis Crowley real-world version Sharon starts Naveen Sharon joins Facebook and Michael Sharon of the videogame. mobile social Area/Code, which Sevladurai as product manager 2005 builds interactive enter New York Google buys network joins Socialight, for mobile. University’s Socialight. games in the which shares 2008 Dodgeball, an early real world. Interactive Telecom- an office with Crowley and mobile location 2009 munications Program. Area/Code. Sharon teach network that was Crowley and Selvadurai “Designing Crowley’s ITP thesis. launch Foursquare. Around Place” at ITP. has tabbed mobile as a the gaming aspects of Places and focused square- was a hotbed of early location efforts, centered top priority, and location ly on usefulness. The lure is twofold: broadcasting around the Interactive Telecommunications Pro- KEVIN SLAVIN is a key part of that. It your location to friends and finding discounts gram at New York University, where both Crowley founder Area/Code and Starling “There was a room at a moment recently recruited from businesses. The power of the latter was on and Sharon graduated. in New York City Foursquare’s No. 4 employee, head of opera- display when Gap gave away 10,000 jeans for “Location services are going to come out of where a lot of tions Nathan Folkman, to come over to its check-ins on a single day. It was the kind of vol- places with dense multilayered points of inter- ideas got mobile team. Poaching Folkman was such a high ume Foursquare would struggle to get, Perez said. est,” said Kevin Slavin, founder of Area/Code hatched.” priority for Facebook that CEO Mark Zuckerberg “It shows the power of reach and scale versus and now CEO of Starling, a system for sharing himself wooed him. His defection functionality,” he said. messages while watching TV. “The reality is came after Facebook brought on The battle between the compa- New York City is where it’s densest.” FOR MORE INFORMATION two other stars of the New York nies is being fought on unusually Slavin is loath to pick sides but said counting To read more digital tech scene,’s Sam Lessin personal terms. Many of the major out the smaller competitor is foolhardy. media coverage, go to and Hot Potato’s Justin Schaffer. It players have been good friends for As location services mature, the question hired them by acquiring their years and pioneered early location now is which is more valuable: the city sensibili- small startups and shutting them services. Selvadurai and Crowley ties of Foursquare or Facebook’s network down. The message: Facebook is serious. met while working for different location startups effects and computing might? Most likely, the DENNIS “Location’s not an application in and of itself,” that shared an office in Greenwich Village in companies will take divergent paths based on CROWLEY said Michael Sharon, product manager for mobile 2007. Selvadurai worked for Socialight, a mobile their strengths and weaknesses. co-founder, Foursquare at Facebook who led the release of Facebook service for users to leave “sticky notes” tied to “These ideas are going to come to maturity “Our ultimate focus Places. “It’s a magic pixie dust you sprinkle on real-world locations. The service was started by in different forms and in different places,” said is about becoming the many services. There’s not going to be one thing Sharon before he joined Facebook. Crowley Slavin. “Something was basically cooked some- best social utility possible that’s going to be the future of location.” worked at Area/Code, a startup focused on gam- time around 2007 on 12th Street near NYU, and that overlaps with the real Unlike Foursquare, Facebook has toned down ing in the real world. New York City in 2004-2007 it’s now becoming different things.” world. We’re not trying to build this amazing game.” 4 | ADWEEKMEDIA | 12.13.2010 12.13.2010 | ADWEEKMEDIA | 5