On stage at Hard Candy Shell’s conference last Friday, Foursquare’s Alex Rainert explained why selling to Google can sometimes be a mistake.Alex told the story of how, after graduating from NYU back in 2004, he and Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley gave themselves six months to launch their first business idea, Dodgeball.
And it went well. It went so well in fact, that they sold Dodgeball to Google.
The pair soon realised selling had been a mistake.
“We sold a business, but never got to build a company,” says Rainert. All their control and decision-making power was gone. Pre-acquisition, Crowley and Rainert had been releasing new features on a spur of the moment. At Google, they were forced to plan all releases, sometimes having to wait months before testing out new product features.
After their prison term at Google finished, Crowley and Rainert decided to start again from scratch. But this time, they would do it right. They set out to build the company they had always wanted to work for.
Foursquare was founded in 2009. In January 2010, their new project had less than 10 employees. As of last month, they’re up to 32. Foursquare has engineers, a business development team, operations, culture, and product people. There are now about 3 million Foursquare users. They’ve had the option to sell but, this time, they’re holding out to make it a company they envisioned.
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