Yahoo in talks to buy Foursquare for $900 million

Yahoo may be in talks to acquire Foursquare for “around $US900 million,” according to a report by Tech Crunch’s Ingrid Lunden and Jordan Crook.

According to Lunden’s sources, the deal between Yahoo and Foursquare “is done,” but the final details are still being worked out.

Contradicting reports have emerged, however, from CNBC’s David Faber and The Wall Street Journal’s Doug MacMillan, both of whom have “confirmed” Yahoo is not in talks to acquire Foursquare.

Recode’s Peter Kafka is also saying the talks are not happening.

While it sounds like Yahoo may not be interested in Foursquare, a Foursquare acquisition from Yahoo could make sense for a few reasons.

First, Marissa Mayer and Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley are friendly, and Mayer is interested in making Yahoo a strong mobile company. Foursquare has tons of valuable location data, even if its user growth metrics haven’t been strong in some time. The reported price tag, $US900 million, might sound like a lot but big tech companies like Yahoo have been known to pony up for data plays. Google, for example, acquired mobile traffic navigation app Waze for $US1 billion and it had roughly the same number of users as Foursquare (tens of millions). Foursquare was last valued at about $US600 million a few years ago before it secured a pile of debt to avoid raising a down round. Foursquare has raised $US162 million to date. 

Additionally, Crowley would almost certainly rather sell to Mayer than a company like Google. Crowley sold his first startup, Dodgeball, to Google and it was promptly shut down. The experience was devastating for Crowley and he’s not likely to make the same mistake twice.

Mayer has also reportedly had her eye on Foursquare for some time now. When Yahoo acquired Tumblr in 2013, AllThingsD reported that “As an executive at Google, she had closely watched [Tumblr’s] fast growth, along with that of Foursquare.”

Foursquare, which was founded in 2009 by Naveen Selvadurai and Dennis Crowley, once turned down a $US100 — 150 million acquisition offer from Facebook when it had raised just a few million dollars. In 2011, Mayer and Crowley were seen getting dinner together in San Francisco.

But Foursquare has been showing signs of indecisiveness lately. Last year, Foursquare decided to unbundle its Foursquare apps into two standalone apps — a Yelp-like search app for discovering new locations and restaurants that will retain the Foursquare name, and Swarm — a location-based check-in app.

Foursquare and Swarm appiTunesFoursquare (left) and Swarm (right).

The new Foursquare app has seen moderate success, ranking among the top 25 travel apps, but it hasn’t managed to break into the top 500 overall apps yet this year, according to App Annie.

Swarm, Foursquare’s location-based check-in app, has been doing even worse, failing to break into the top 100 U.S. social networking apps or even the the top 1500 overall.

We have been reaching out to sources but haven’t yet been unable to confirm or deny the acquisition rumour. We’ll update this story as soon as we know more.

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