Foursquare has been morphing to become more of a local discovery and recommendation engine with its latest relaunch, and despite slow growth will have enough time now with this money to extend its life for a while to come.
In early April Foursquare got $41 million from private equity fund Silver Lake Partners and VC firms Andreessen Horowitz, Union Square Ventures, O’Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, and Spark Capital. The bulk of the money is a multiyear loan from Silver Lake; the rest is convertible debt that can eventually be swapped for shares. By taking on debt, rather than giving investors equity stakes, Foursquare delays a public debate about its true worth. (Early investment rounds valued the company at $600 million.)
Foursquare’s main source of revenue, ads on its search engine, has been a disappointment, in part because many users don’t realize the app offers search. As a result, Foursquare has been slow to make money from mobile ads …it brought in just $2 million in revenue last year.
Updated: The official announcement is out. Some big sky thinking, though Foursquare has never lacked that: “To us, this is like when Google came and revolutionized web search. Suddenly, you could find things on the internet. The real world is the same way. Four years ago when we started Foursquare, it was really hard to discover a new retro arcade that opened up on a side street, or to make sure you weren’t overlooking the best dish on the menu, or to know a good friend was just around the corner. Sometimes, we think of Foursquare as having the ability to give people superpowers for exploring the real world.” Ok, now they have $41 million to bring that superpowers to people.
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