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.
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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.