Photo: leyink via Flickr
Mobile check-in service Foursquare has a $600 million valuation and 75 employees. 10 million people have used it, the company told AdAge’s Edmund Lee for a profile on its CEO and cofounder, Dennis Crowley.What’s Dennis’s secret?
Unlike a lot of tech startup founders, Dennis is a marketer first and foremost.
He told AdAge: “I’m not an engineer. I tell the story. That’s what I do.”
Dennis himself resists being labelled a marketer.
He tells us: “I would never call myself a “marketer”. I’m a product person who knows just enough PHP/MySql to prototype ideas.”
But anybody who saw the flood of check-in apps hit the market a couple years ago, and wondered why everyone was mostly talking about just one of them – Foursquare – can attest that Crowley is not just a marketer, he’s a pretty good one.
Turns out he has some training in it. AdAge says Crowley studied advertising at Syracuse, and that he interned with Kirshenbaum Bond Partners, and worked directly with noted brand consultant Michael Duda.
In the end, though, there is one reason Crowley is such a great marketer for Foursquare – so effective at explaining to employees and users what the app can and should do.
It is the fact that if Foursquare did not exist, Crowley’s social life would inevitibly demand that he create it.
Here’s how AdAge describes Crowley’s social life:
According to friends (and Foursquare), he also likes to go out — a lot. He prefers the fried pork chop at Brooklyn eatery Buttermilk Channel. He plays skeeball at Ace Bar. He does a summer share with friends in Montauk where he surfs but stopped recently after encountering a shark. “Very freaky,” he said. He plays soccer in a pick-up league and has recently taken to training for a triathlon. He has 539 friends on Foursquare, and given his prolific hand at building friendships, chances are they’re all palpably real. He’s a shy but garrulous beast, an “intensely social icon,” according to Frank Lantz, a professor and entrepreneur with whom Mr. Crowley had worked with.
“He wants to meet up with his friends on the spur of the moment and have drinks and have fun and that’s what he’s motivated by,” he said. “Crowley wants to be surrounded by people. It’s, ‘Hey what’s going on tonight? I don’t know, let’s check in with Dens.’ Crowley was always well provisioned for social events.”
That kind of where-is-everyone-else paranoia has always infected New Yorkers to the degree that it has become a kind of unspoken game of the city: As everyone ventures out to their respective scenes they’re all saddled with the thought that there’s probably a better party going on elsewhere.
So, to review.
- He’s a marketer, not an engineer.
- He’s a good marketer because he created a product that actually solves a problem for him.