Revenue attempts have been weak at best, fundraising proved difficult, and user growth seems to have stalled. Former Square COO Keith Rabois blasted Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley on Twitter recently, saying the only hope for the check-in company was a "Hail Mary" acquisition and that active user numbers were low.
Today at TechCrunch Disrupt, Crowley fired back. He blamed the change in Foursquare's perception on a "hazing" period that many growing companies face.
"We're not this shiny new thing anymore," Crowley said, admitting that the company hasn't made the Internet location layer completely "happen" yet. "We've been around four years. A lot of people understand what we're trying to do, but there's a lot of people who don't. I also think we're going through that interesting hazing experience for companies [where people wonder] 'Are these guys going to pull it off or not?' It's not terribly daunting. It's fine people are skeptical about what we're doing. We'll just put our heads down and [push the product out]."
With regards to Rabois, Crowley cautioned the audience not to listen to people who are "misinformed" and "haters who are trying to poke holes in a business."
"If i was on the board of Yelp I'd be stressed about [Foursquare] too," he said.
When asked about stalled user adoption and weak revenue generation (Foursquare was said to have generated $2 million in 2012), Crowley says both are actually on the rise.
"The perception that we're not growing is false," said Crowley. He says Foursquare's number of monthly sign-ups are up 10-30%, as well as the number of people using its search feature, Explore. So are Foursquare's monthly web visitors, which exceed the number of app users. App users are just over 30 million. It's down in college markets and up with parents.
Crowley noted that March was the company's highest revenue-generating month yet, and that it's regularly signing six-figure deals with advertisers and merchants. He wouldn't comment on 2013 revenue, merely stating that the company is on track to hit an aggressive goal.
Crowley also believes the negative sentiment comes from users who haven't opened the app recently. He says the company isn't the same badge and points startup they knew in 2009.
" The biggest haters haven't opened the app in six months," said Crowley. " We have p ersonalized recommendations and the ability to predict a user's intent. A lot of people haven't figured out how much app has changed recently."
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