Ten Years After Debut, Foursquare Founder Returns to SXSW With New 'Hypertrending' Feature

March 11, 2019

By Spencer Feingold

A decade after Foursquare launched at South by Southwest (SXSW), the company has returned to the conference with a new consumer-facing feature that illustrates potential new applications for its trove of location data.

Integrated into Foursquare’s City Guide app and Swarm check-in app, the new Hypertrending feature uses real-time location data to map the popularity of SXSW events and venues throughout the host city of Austin, Texas, Dennis Crowley, Foursquare’s founder and executive chairman, told Cheddar.

On the platform, venues and events are represented by dots, with the size of each dot corresponding to the number of people in attendance. The dots are color coded to represent the type of event or venue, such as a food or nightlife spot.

Five years after pivoting to a business-to-business model aimed at selling Foursquare technology to other apps, the new feature appears to be a return to the company’s consumer-facing roots.

But rather than signaling another change in strategy, Crowley said Hypertrending is intended to illustrate the potential uses of its enormous collection of location data, which is gathered from Foursquare apps and other apps that use the company’s technology.

“You can think of Hypertrending as a place-based version of Amazon’s “Most Read” books list (which is based on Kindle data) or Spotify’s “Top 200” songs (based on streaming data),” Crowley wrote in a blog post.

Hypertrending also includes a "Top 100" chart that ranks places and events by the number of phones inside the venue. Users can even see whether the place has gotten more or less crowded in the last 30 minutes.

During the nine-day demonstration of Hypertrending, Foursquare hopes to spur future innovation and illustrate the depth of its user location data. "We can build for consumers, we can build for enterprises, we can build for brands, we can build anything on top of it,” Crowley said of the data.

The company is aware, however, that the feature “walks a fine line between being ‘creepy’ and 'cool,’” as Crowley wrote in his blog post.

The privacy concerns are why the Hypertrending is only being featured in Austin and only during SXSW. The company has no plans to launch it to a larger audience after SXSW.

Hypertrending is “not a breakout app, but it's a look into what we might be able to do in a year or two years from now as people become comfortable with the idea that a lot of these services collect data and a lot of data is out there,” Crowley told Cheddar.

For full interview click here.

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