Foursquare has 240M check-ins in Japan, will leverage its big data for next business phase



This is a part of our coverage of B Dash Camp Fukuoka 2013.

See the original story in Japanese.

Foursquare debuted at SxSW in 2009. Its gamification elements (check-ins, mayor, badges) made it a smash hit all around the world. Now four years since its launch, the company is ready for the next phase of its business.

At B Dash Camp 2013 in Fukuoka yesterday, Holger Luedorf, the head of business development at Foursquare, explained what’s on the horizon for the location-based app. In the process he revealed some interesting figures about their userbase, as well as some metrics for Japan.

Big data makes predictive search possible

Holger began his talk with a screen capture from when he arrived in Fukuoka, showing him that everyone was inviting friends to lunch. Recommendations for restaurants popped up as it was almost noon.


He explains that when he is located far from his home, the app detects that he is on a trip and presents him with nearby sightseeing spots. When he checked in at Grand Hyatt (the venue of for event), the app suggested that visit a nearby Starbucks based on his check-in history.

He noted that the latest version of the Foursquare app is optimized for search functions, proposing some places to visit as well as finding destinations in the search box. The more your friends accumulate check-ins, the more precise the app will be when recommending places of interest.

240 million check-ins in Japan

Holger tells the audience that Foursquare has acquired 3.5 billion check-ins, 30 million users, 50 million points of interest, and 50 million public photos around the world.



In Japan, Foursquare has 240 millions check-ins with 1.6 million total venues, all of which are user generated. The top venues for check-ins include Shinjuku Station, Akihabara Station, and Shibuya Station, as you can see in the slide above. When asked about their progress in Asia, Holger points out that they had good growth in the region in 2012, in places like Japan, Indonesia, Thailand, and Vietnam. But recently Turkey, Brazil, and Russia have been growing the fastest. He explains:

The nice thing about being a social network is that most of our growth is really viral, so we don’t have anyone on the ground right now in Asia. But I think for finding developers who want to use our data, later on in the next phase we will seek partners for both the platform and the advertising side. I’m pretty confident we’ll have to work with partners here in Japan when it comes time for sales and monetization.

Foursquare’s big data shows people on the move

Holger also showed the following visualization illustrating the fluctuations of the people during the day in both New York and Tokyo. You can even make out the Yamanote Line if you look closely!

If you use any of the apps shown on the slide below, you’re also using Foursquare in a way, because they all make use of its data. Instagram uses Foursquare’s geotag, for example. Holger explained that they have 75 million API calls a day, and if you include all the users of these Foursquare-integrated apps, it totals about 100 million active users.


Their API is used by 40,00 companies, including game developers who use it to build ‘real world’ games. There are also messaging services and navigation app providers. Holger explains that there are lots of interesting ways that people are using Foursquare data, in ways that the company wouldn’t have come up with itself.