As rumors of VC funding and acquisition offers persist, blazing hot location startup Foursquare continues to grow. At Business Insider’s Startup 2010 event in New York, Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley revealed that the service is adding 15,000 users a day.
In an on-stage interview with Business Insider editor Henry Blodget, Crowley explained how Foursquare will evolve beyond a simple check-in service which announces users’ physical location to their friends.
“What we’re trying to do is build this rich layer of services,” said Crowley. One of the services he indicated would be introduced is what he described as “Google Analytics but for small coffee shops,” comparing Foursquare’s forthcoming reporting tools for small businesses to the Web-traffic analysis tools offered by Google.
Crowley sees a future where Foursquare serves as a platform for customer-loyalty programs. Foursquare has already inked a deal with Starbucks to provide Starbucks “mayors” — the users who most frequently check in at a given location — with a discount on Frappuccinos. Foursquare also has signed partnerships with Bravo TV and others to provide customized badges for check-ins at specific locations. When an audience member posed a question about custom badges for small businesses, Crowley said he was interested in implementing such a program.
While the location-based space is becoming cluttered with richly funded competitors like Gowalla, Booyah, and others, Crowley isn’t worried about competitors producing a better service.
“Nobody’s going to beat us at product,“ he said.
He also shrugged off attempts by Yelp and others to create functionality similar to Foursquare. Specifically referring to Yelp’s check-in functionality, he quipped, “I don’t know anyone who uses them.”
He pointed to Facebook’s attempt to mimic Twitter’s functionality as evidence that Foursquare could beat bigger competitors playing their game: “Twitter faced the same thing with Facebook…. Facebook didn’t kill Twitter.”
Crowley envisions a day when Foursquare will have around 10 million users, which is around ten times Foursquare’s current user base. He doesn’t, however, see the service becoming as mainstream as either Facebook or Twitter.
Many in the media have expressed concerns about privacy issues related to location-based applications. But Crowley dismissed these concerns.
“As long as it’s opt-in I don’t see the problem,” Crowley said. Passive location applications like Google Latitude, he said, are more of a concern. “It haunts me more than it helps me.”
In a brief conversation after his interview, Crowley told VentureBeat he would be interested in seeing a mashup of Foursquare and Latitude that preserved user privacy while providing a nudge to check in when you’re at a location.