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Foursquare Bets Big, Splits In Two

Until now, the point of Foursquare has more or less been to allow people to check-in to locations and find out what locations their friends were checked-in to.

That is more or less an artifact of history now, as Foursquare makes a big bet in its corporate evolution and splits the company into two–one based on its core applications that will make recommendations and another that will function as a “social heat map” where one can get a sense of where friends are and what they are doing.

“Listen, the point of the company, this whole thing, was never to build an awesome check-in button,” says CEO Dennis Crowley in an interview with The Verge. “That’s not the thing we got out of bed and said, that we wanted to build the most awesome check-in button in the world! Back in 2009 declaring your location was a necessity, because phones didn’t have the power to reliably pinpoint a user, and Foursquare didn’t have much data on what venues were nearby. By 2014, however, both the technology and the data have finally come of age.”

The new service, Swarm, will allow users to see what friends of theirs are in an area and open a dialog box with them accordingly–an ambient location technology that has failed to ignite for many start-ups but has not been attempted with a more established company like Foursquare.

The rebuilt Foursquare will have an interface much like Yelp’s, but its recommendations will be based on the past behavior of customers or their friends in an area.

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