What Foursquare ‘DeathWatch?’ CRO Cites Triple-Digit Revenue Growth

The social check-in and discovery app maker has faced its share of skepticism in the tech press, but CRO Steven Rosenblatt points to vitality in the form of brand dollars.

Nearly every tech company faces scrutiny in today’s day and age, but Foursquare seems to have lived under the microscope more than most.

Steven Rosenblatt
Foursquare’s Steven Rosenblatt

The location-sharing social network has indeed faced revenue and popularity challenges since attracting tremendous hype in its launch at SxSW six years ago. As the company looked to expand its offerings and boost its relevance, Foursquare spun off into two separate apps in May 2014, and it followed up with an out-of-home campaign to promote the split.

The Swarm app is a continuation of Foursquare’s original objective, allowing users to check in to locations as well as make plans with friends and see who is nearby. The revamped Foursquare app, on the other hand, is a local search and discovery tool that provides a personalized experience for users by taking into account the places they go and the things they like to do.

Most recently, in March 2015, the company debuted direct messaging as part of Swarm, aiming to help users to better communicate with their friends.

Despite the shifts, Foursquare does continue to be the subject of “death watch” think pieces. But Foursquare CRO Steven Rosenblatt insists that the company’s current growth numbers indicate that it’s in better shape than ever. “Revenue is in triple-digit growth,” he said. “Business since the split is going great.”

GeoMarketing: How has Foursquare’s value proposition to local marketers changed since the split into two apps, Swarm and Foursquare?

Steven Rosenblatt: I think it has gotten crisper. I think local marketers care getting you into their establishment, period. That’s the only thing they care about. They’re not really into building a brand.

It’s all about personalized search and discovery, so if anything, the conversation we’re having now with local merchants is crisper and clearer. They understand that we’re a conduit to help drive people into their establishment and to help them communicate what is great at their establishment. That’s what we’re seeing from them.

Does Swarm have a separate appeal to marketers, or is it complementary, in your view?

I think it’s complementary. The question for marketers is always ‘what part of the funnel do you want to reach a consumer at?’ With Swarm, it’s really at the bottom of the funnel. Someone’s checked in at a place; they’re at a restaurant or a bar. They’re at a store. What do you want to serve them when they’re at that place?

There are very few opportunities to do that in a digital format, and I think Swarm kind of solves that problem, whereas Foursquare is more the mid to upper funnel of search and discovery.

How did October’s out-of-home campaign work out for Foursquare? Do you have any plans to do another one?

It was great. For us, that was just kind of a test. We had a lot of great feedback, especially as we’re positioning Foursquare from a search and discovery perspective. I think there’s a TBD in terms of what we’ll do in the future, but we were happy with how it turned out.

Finally, how do you respond to those “death watch” stories?

Frankly, I think there’s a lot of “tabloid media” in our industry. There’s a lot of link-baiting going on. We’ve heard this for six years now, that we’re “never going to make it.” But revenue is in triple-digit growth. Business is going great [with the division of Foursquare and Swarm]. You kind of just ignore it, because [we believe our users and our clients] know what we’re doing.

The marketers know the results that we drive. We power over 80,000 app locations, and they rely on us. I think we’re a key part of the fabric of the ecosystem, so unfortunately for those link baiters, we’re not going anywhere anytime soon.

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Lauryn Chamberlain Lauryn Chamberlain @laurynchamberla

Lauryn Chamberlain is the Associate Editor of A New York City based journalist, she specializes in stories related to retail, dining, hospitality, and travel.