What Exactly Do Foursquare's 135 Employees Do All Day?

Foursquare Office TourIt’s a lot harder than it looks.

Photo: Robert Libetti/Business Insider

Last week we visited Foursquare’s SoHo headquarters. It was by far the coolest startup office we’ve visited.It has everything from an amphitheater to shuffle board.

The pictures evoked scepticism from some readers. “Why does Foursquare need 135 people to manage 5 million daily check-ins and play games all day?” They said.

40 comments later, Foursquare’s VP of engineering, Harry¬†Heymann, responded.

Here’s what really goes on in the Foursquare headquarters, according to Heymann:

It’s a lot more complicated than you might think. Here’s some of the stuff that our ~70 engineers (our of that 135) are working on:

  1. Building the most comprehensive point of interest database in the world & keeping it up to date.
  2. Building a tool that given you location, your history, and various other signals determines where you are. Given how inaccurate GPS is, that’s a lot more difficult than you might guess.
  3. Building a place recommendation engine that, in about half a second, will recommend places for you to go based on everywhere you’ve ever been and everywhere any of your friends have been (and a lot of other signals as well).
  4. Building a scalable infrastructure that runs on hundreds of machines and is fault tolerant to any of them failing at any time.
  5. Building a suite of merchant tools that let’s them run specials & promotions for their places of business and broadcast notes of interest to their customers (and potential customers)
  6. Building a beautiful & easy to use web interface.
  7. Designing a beautiful & easy open API that has received nearly universal praise from anyone that has used it and has served as a model for several other technology companies.
  8. Designing simple yet powerful UX for our mobile apps. It’s really hard to make a complicated application easy to use on a small mobile screen.And this is just off the top of my head. No, it’s not rocket science but it is pretty complicated. If you compare the output of our engineering team to other organisations we’re doing a lot more per person that most companies.

Anyways, I just wanted to shed a little light on what the foursquare engineering team is up to. It’s actually really super interesting stuff. We’re always looking to hire new folks that are interested in helping out!

-harryh, VP Eng @ foursquareNow take a tour of the office that evoked so much envy: Foursquare, The Coolest Startup We’ve Seen >

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