Article in Companies, Mobile, Startup, Interview, App Review, iPhone categories.

One Startup Foursquare Didn’t Kill Today

New Feature by Foursquare Recently, there has been recent speculation that Foursquare’s new Lists feature will kill off 5 smaller location-based start-ups: Matchbook, GTrot, Spoton,…

New Feature by Foursquare

Recently, there has been recent speculation that Foursquare’s new Lists feature will kill off 5 smaller location-based start-ups: Matchbook, GTrot, Spoton, Dinevore, and Want!. The Lists feature differs from Foursquare’s original focus, which was to broadcast an individual’s current location through real-time mobile check-ins.  With the development of Lists, Foursquare has expanded its functionality to enable users to bookmark places, thereby adding an future-oriented, intention-based aspect to their services. The Lists are designed to allow users to create collections of cool places they’d like to check out, as well as keep tabs on spots they’ve already visited. Multiple users can develop a list and anyone can follow existing lists that they find interesting. One example? Foursquare user Tristan Walker’s constantly updated “Best Restaurant Views in the World.”

Choosing Check-Ins

In an interview with Fueled, Matchbook founder Jason Schwartz stated, “For those who have weighed the value proposition of the check-in and have decided that maybe it’s not right for them, I don’t think that [Foursquare ‘Lists’] is going to change their minds.” Indeed, Foursquare’s early adopters were initially attracted to the broadcast capabilities of the site, and weren’t concerned as much with discovering new places, keeping track of old ones, or planning trips based on check-ins. It was more like a location-based Twitter (plus deals) than a tour guide app. Those who haven’t liked it from the beginning cite reasons such as: broadcast static, lack of privacy, design, and the cleverly disguised insignificance of its incentives. Additions like Lists don’t alter Foursquare’s core platform, and so theoretically speaking, would they make non-Foursquare users more likely to become users?

A Different Crowd

Foursquare’s attempt to add items to their platform no doubt makes them a better and more diversified service. “They’ve built a lot of great features such as ‘Lists’ to continue to engage the uses that have decided that they were interested in the check-in proposition,” says Schwartz. Schwartz suggests that ‘Lists’ will only further enhance the Foursquare user experience, but will not play a large role in drawing in a new user base. Matchbook’s platform caters to those who want to keep track of the places they’ve been to without broadcasting this information to the world. A “discreet sharing” feature is available, says Schwartz. “I bookmark a place and if I want to send that to someone I think is interested, [Matchbook] will share this info via text message.” Schwartz told Fueled that his mobile app is more popular with users who don’t frequently engage with other forms of social media, “normal people, not really tech adopters, especially on the female side have gravitated to Matchbook.”


In the tech industry, it’s normal for smaller companies to get shut down or absorbed by their faster-growing counterparts. Just look at Google’s many acquisitions or Skype’s recent purchase of GroupMe. However, do large companies have the ability to drive out their small competition solely by developing new features that differ from the original purpose of the company? In other words, can Foursquare ‘Lists’ take over the market for intent-based check-ins although that’s not what Foursquare users originally signed up for?

“Journalists love to say that company a is going to kill company b, but that rarely happens. Adding new functionality to an existing app isn't the same as approaching that specific functionality without constraints. When you start from scratch you have the opportunity to gear your decisions to an entirely new demographic, without the overhead of your existing product and user expectations.  This simplifies the product and the marketing message.  I think Foursquare benefited from this when Facebook tried to add the check-in to their platform.  Likewise, many companies will benefit from this as they focus on various segments of the location based space."

Will Matchbook be extinguished by Foursquare’s new features? Let us know what you think!

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