23 Aug 2013

Yahoo, Foursquare In Talks Over Data Partnership

Foursquare, once criticized for not being able to figure out a business, may have finally struck gold deep in its data centers.
The location-based startup in New York already brings in a small amount of advertising revenue — about $2 million in 2012, which is doubling about every quarter, according to a source familiar with the company’s financials. However, there may exist a much more lucrative stream of revenue deep in the guts of the company’s servers: monetizing data about venues and locations that it has collected from millions of check-ins throughout its roughly four-year lifetime.
Foursquare already does this through a partnership with Gnip, which sells packaged data from social services like Twitter, but it may go beyond even that as the company is in talks with Yahoo to partner for the company’s location data — though the discussions are still fluid — according to two sources familiar with the matter. Foursquare was also reportedly in talks with Apple to serve up its location data for the iPhone’s Maps application, which was critically panned when compared with the robust data Google has available through its Maps application.
Indeed, Foursquare’s data has become more valuable following Google’s $1 billion acquisition of Waze, according to a source familiar with the deal. Similar to Foursquare, Waze has a large community of users that essentially builds a database of intersections and streets along with traffic data, while Foursquare focuses on locations like venues and restaurants. Waze also uses data available through Foursquare’s platform.
Foursquare has collected about 4 billion check-ins. Those check-ins, in addition to a massive network of apps — like Instagram and Uber — using Foursquare and sending data back to the company, have created one of the most robust databases of venues available on the web. Each venue carries with it an extensive profile, including points of information such as which times of day it’s popular, what impact the weather has on it, and the like. And pretty much every developer working on the Foursquare platform has access to that data.
“We’re getting a lot of data back that’s actually making our product better,” Holder Luedorf, head of business development at Foursquare, said. “We have a good amount of photos in our database attached to venues coming back from Instagram, for example.”

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