46. Foursquare

A success story turned inside out

Founders: Dennis Crowley, Naveen Selvadurai
Launched: 2009
Funding: $195.2 million
Valuation: $317 million (PitchBook)
Disrupting: Advertising platforms, big data
Rival: Facebook, Google

George Kavallines

New York City-based Foursquare may have started out in 2009 as an app to check in with friends, but the company has focused on using its location intelligence for bigger purposes ever since. Last year it launched a new service, called Attribution, that allows advertisers, brands and publishers to measure how their media spending translates into actual visits to retail locations. The companies using the service include TGI Fridays, Peet's Coffee and Anheuser-Busch.

Read More FULL LIST: 2017 DISRUPTOR 50

Foursquare's numbers are impressive. Every month, 50 million people use the company's two mobile apps and websites: Foursquare and Swarm. The former lets users check in with friends with real-time location; the latter turns check-ins with friends into a game, allowing users to earn coins, collect stickers and compete with others.

In March the company introduced Foursquare Analytics, a foot-traffic dashboard for brands and retailers. Stores can use the dashboard to see how many customers are coming through their doors and measure them by demographics (gender or age, for instance) and whether they are new or returning customers.

The company has raised $195.2 million to date from venture funds, including Union Square Ventures, Morgan Stanley, Andreessen Horowitz and Spark Capital. In addition to its offices in London, last year Foursquare opened offices in Asia as it continues its expansion outside the United States.

Latest Special Reports

  • In a world of big box retail and e-commerce, successful business owners are taking new paths to Main Street success.

  • Covid-19 is expected to be with us for years even if the colossal investment in treatments and vaccines eventually manages to contain and control the global pandemic. The world will look dramatically different in its wake. As businesses begin the shift from crisis mode to planning for the lasting impact of Covid, CNBC’s journalists will hunt for cases of companies and industries taking a leading role in shaping Our New Future.

  • Traders and financial professionals work on the floor of the New York Stock Exchange.

    CNBC’s financial reporters weigh in on what every investor needs to know when it comes to companies' earnings reports.