A real revenue model for Foursquare

Digital footprintFour years ago I signed up (it did not feel like joining) for Foursquare.  There’s still value in checking into various places – $5 off, a free appetizer, or some other special (free drink etc.) that might be offered upon checking in – I like that and have written about that as well as what Foursquare might be considering to increase revenue but nothing has changed.  What is Dennis Crowley and his team waiting for?

There is data provided by Foursquare.  In fact in checking some of the available stats, I’ve ‘checked in’ almost 6,000 times since I’ve joined.  I have 60 ‘badges’ but I could not tell you one of them as they have zero value to me – and to everyone else.

I’m also the ‘mayor’ of something like 3 places not all of which are still open. But I’ve never been mayor of a place where I received something for that distinction.  I can see that I check in some places much more than others and I can also see the types of places that I check in.

Those are mildly interesting stats at best, yet I keep checking in. Recently I began to think about the future value of my check-in’s today and over the past few years.  A way for Dennis Crowley and the Foursquare team to monetize my check-in’s would be to sell me back my own data from past years.  Each day, each individual check in.  I’d be willing to pay for it and you might too.

Why?  Because reviewing your own personal digital footprint is interesting.  Sort of a digital archeology if you think about it.  And as time passes let’s say twenty years from now in 2030 those check-in’s from 2010 would offer you a glimpse at the places you used to frequent. Helping bring back the memory of that great little restaurant on the corner that went out of business years ago is cool.  Remembering the friendly little man at the dry cleaner that you had not thought about in years might bring you a smile.

Being able to reach back and touch a forgotten memory is a cool thing.    Having a digital footprint of your day to day life in a particular year is diary-like I realize but different since the catalog would be more complete if despite not being as prosaic.

Of course Foursquare has to deliver by lasting for the twenty or more years so that you can have that access.   To date Foursquare is still fine tuning its revenue model.  Selling users back their own data at a low price creates value for the user and could be significant revenue for Foursquare.

I invite Dennis Crowley to give me a call to discuss my idea (we are not Foursquare ‘friends’ however) although it would surprise me to have the Foursquare folks tell me they have already thought of it and thanks anyway.

If they have already come up with the idea on their own why hasn’t that been announced by Foursquare?

About markkolier

Futurist, entrepreneur, left lane driver, baseball lover
This entry was posted in Entertainment, Living in the World Today, Marketing stuff, Networking, Social Media, Technology and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to A real revenue model for Foursquare

  1. Quite possibly I am wrong, but I don’t think that many people would pay an interesting amount (= high $$ one-time, or subscription) for the above. Sure, in 20 years I can see myself paying up to $40 once (and only once) to get a snapshot of my historical data but no mas. So to me, this feels less like a revenue model and more like a one time (profitable) marketing stunt that 4sq can execute… in 20 years. And this would only work for active check-in-ers ;- such as yourself (ie there wouldn’t be enough data on casual users).

    Can you think of other successful companies whose revenue models are based on selling user data back directly to those users? Off top of my head I can only think of Ancestry.com (though data there is not really users’).


    • markkolier says:

      Interesting perspective Nikita. While I cannot offer any other successful companies based on selling user data back to its users, the fact that you might be willing to pay at all suggests that there are legs on this idea. It may not be a killer revenue app and I expect it would be refined but it’s data that absolutely has value to the individual user. What is it worth? That’s a question for Foursquare to figure out. Thanks for reading and for the comment.


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