Last week Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley sat down for an interview at LES co-working space Projective. The event was part of Pando Daily’s ongoing speaker series. Since it was a short five minute walk from my apartment, I decided to check it out. PandoDaily’s Sarah Lacy tried to get in several gotcha moments. First, asking about a potential acquisition offer from Yahoo (Crowley deflected) and then leading into an even bigger question with, “this is probably going to piss you off, but…” Back to the Yahoo question though. Crowley answered by saying something along the lines that he doesn’t really know what their new strategy is and how his company would fit in. He also mentioned that just because he was seen talking to someone doesn’t mean anything. He talks to people from lots of different companies, that’s just how it works. From the glances they were exchanging, I would guess that something is going on here. Foursquare seems like a perfect acquisition target for Marissa Mayer at Yahoo. The other gotcha question is as follows:
I want to ask you broadly about liquidation of shares and cashing out and secondary markets and how you guys have viewed that. And the particular story I heard about Foursquare was that there was a guy who was you know, a fairly senior level guy who wasn’t working out very well, who you guys got rid of. And about the same time there was a kind of stupid rich man in New York who really wanted to get some shares of a hot up and coming internet company, knew nothing about the space, found out something about Foursquare, some how got hooked up with this guy who had just been fired from Foursquare. I believe it was around the time you were doing your Series C and basically said well what was the valuation of the Series C and someone told him so he said, well what if I pay you three times that. Like he had no idea how this worked, bought out this guy’s shares, news trickled back to Foursquare, there wasn’t a lot of allowance for liquidity among the employees and the employees were furious because this douchebag who had been fired just got cashed out triple times while the guys still working at the company weren’t.”
(cue audience laughter)
Crowley declined to answer, but was surprisingly well natured about the whole thing. Based on his reaction, I’d say he knew exactly what she was talking about.
Overall the entire exchange was fascinating, although most of the audience questions weren’t very thoughtful. One thing Crowley could actually talk about was where Foursquare is heading in the future. He spoke a lot about the data (over three billion check-ins) and what that allows them to do. He also hinted at being able to directly take on Yelp with Foursquare’s Explore feature.
That direct competition was rolled out today. Foursquare’s web site is now giant discovery tool for places in your area. You can see it live on Foursquare.com.