Foursquare Expands Uber Alliance, Releases Restaurant Recommendations App

Foursquare is providing venue data to Uber to direct users to 'points of interest.'

Uber and Foursquare are extending their year-old collaboration in an effort to improve the accuracy and ease of the ride-hailing app’s pickups and dropoffs.

The deal calls for Foursquare to supply Uber with its “venue data,” which is based on the check-in and discovery app developer’s seven-year-old collection of 85 million global locations from its apps’ 50 million monthly users.

Validation And Integration

The incorporation of Foursquare’s data is further validation of its location intelligence, which has been used to verify and even predict store sales based on actual visitation.

As Mike Harkey, VP of Business Development at Foursquare, pointed out in a Medium post, Uber joins Apple, Twitter, Pinterest, Samsung, Microsoft, Yahoo, WeChat and Garmin, who are among the the 100,000 developers who rely on Foursquare Places data.

“The breadth and accuracy of Foursquare’s location intelligence is impressive,” said Emil Michael, Uber’s Chief Business Officer, in a post on the company’s blog. “With the ability to customize location data, we can make the user experience even better for Uber riders and drivers around the globe.”

Full Circle

Last year, Uber first integrated into Foursquare’s app. That connection, which was made by app tech provider Button, allowed the check-in platform’s users to access the ride-hailing function within the city guide app, as opposed to having to open Uber separately.

“It feels great to make the circle complete, with Uber integrated into Foursquare and now Foursquare venues integrated into Uber,” Harkey, wrote. “In fact, we’re so excited by this partnership we’ve also agreed to use Uber for Business exclusively for our employee ride-sharing needs globally.”

Foursquare's Marsbot in action
Foursquare’s Marsbot in action

Restaurant Pickup

In separate Foursquare news, Foursquare is in the process of releasing its third standalone app, called Marsbot. It’s currently being beta tested (we’re patiently waiting our turn on the “waitlist.”)

Marsbot’s premise is that it “tells you where to eat or drink before you think to ask for it,” Marissa Chacko, Foursquare’s product manager, wrote on Tumblr. The app promises to deliver “contextually-aware, proactive recommendations for awesome food and nightlife spots” via text message.

In a sense, Marsbot, which is only available in San Francisco and New York at the moment, represents Foursquare’s second foray into the idea of “discovery.”

While many tech industry observers scoffed when Foursquare spun off into two separate apps in May 2014 — with Swarm taking on the original gamified check-in function, while the flagship brand focused on recommendations based on the location of a smartphone user — it would seem that its efforts have made more sense lately.

For example, Foursquare’s Pilgrim technology, which allows the app to suggest places to go when a user is in proximity of a recommended place — even when it’s not actively being “opened” by the smartphone’s owner — is what powers its Attribution store visitation data product.

The ability to harness passive data is increasingly important to Foursquare. But as younger consumers’ tastes change, it makes sense to offer another option. And again, it’s not only providing app users another discovery tool; you could argue that given the value of the partnerships from the likes of Uber and other developers, Foursquare’s ability to inform its place data through passive methods is where its true strengths lie.

Still, Foursquare still needs to maintain its reputation as a consumer-facing app developer. The reason the company has so many detractors is that it was so hyped when it debuted at SxSW in 2009. In a small sense, Marsbot is a way of Foursquare maintaining its relevance with tech insiders and younger consumers.

“This year in tech has been all about chatbots, but Marsbot is not a chatbot,” notes Chacko. “We chose to experiment with offering proactive and personalized recommendations. It’s a completely different mode of interaction. With a chatbot, you ask specific questions and give specific prompts for what you need. Our goal with Marsbot is to give you the answers before you even ask—just based on where you are and where you usually go. It’s a really big, futuristic challenge. And it’s one that only Foursquare, with our vast location intelligence, can tackle.”

About The Author
David Kaplan David Kaplan @davidakaplan

A New York City-based journalist for over 20 years, David Kaplan is managing editor of A former editor and reporter at AdExchanger, paidContent, Adweek and MediaPost.