When you look at those two videos [2010 vs 2012] side by side, it almost appears that the company has executed one of the most artful startup pivots ever, but that’s not the case at all. Those check-ins, points, badges and mayorships were never anything more than a ploy to get people to keep pulling out their phones and sending their location to foursquare, all while the company was building up the huge data set they needed to power recommendations and other features. Listen closely to the old video and you’ll hear a lot of the same ideas presented in the new one, like recommendations and “making your city easier to use.” There’s no mistaking that foursquare was on exactly the same path then as they are now. Sure, the badges and mayorships are a fun diversion, but the real meat of foursquare has been, and always will be, the tips and recommendations they’re able to provide. Foursquare won’t kill the gaming aspects anytime soon (if ever), but they’ll continue to take a back seat.
My favorite part of running this company is seeing people “get” the transformation from “game mechanics and checkins are cute” to “with 1.5bn checkins, we can change the way you experience your neighborhood”.
But if you think the gaming mechanics “will take a back seat” you’re mistaken… we’re just waiting till we have the resources to amp them back up again. Not to show our hand at all, but do you really think all those “Level 6 Coffee” badges are just for fun and games? :)