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1/24/2011
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Foursquare Value Checks In At $250 Million

Social media location site is developing tools to help local businesses connect with customers and expects to hit 10 million users by June, said site co-founder.

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Foursquare is valued at a quarter-billion dollars, and the location-based social networking service may seek additional funding this year, the company's co-founder said at a music industry conference Saturday.

The social media business, founded in March 2009, currently has more than 6 million users and most likely will have 10 million users by June, said Naveen Selvadurai, in an interview during MIDEM 2011 in Cannes, France, this weekend. The company also expects its employee base to double to 120 by year-end, he said.

In June, Foursquare was valued at $95 million after it received a $20 million cash infusion from Andreessen Horowitz.

However, the site does face increasing competition from sites such as Facebook Places, Twitter, and smaller entities like Gowalla and Yelp.

To differentiate itself from its larger competitors, to continue its growth, and to add to its coffers, Foursquare plans to forge more partnerships with local businesses and artists, as well as offer recommendations such as where to eat a meal, see a concert, or attend a show, Selvadurai said. In addition, Foursquare hopes to attract more musicians so fans will have the opportunity to follow their activities online, he said at the music-focused event.

"I'd love to get a lot more artists onto Foursquare, that's an easy one," he said, in an interview. "Getting a lot of artists onto the system and seeing the world through their eyes is a very powerful thing. What better way to engage with people you admire than something like [Foursquare]? I hope in a year's time that we'll be able to do that with a lot more artists. That's something I find immensely exciting and very valuable."

Foursquare also is developing tools to further help local businesses, in addition to its existing national client base such as PepsiCo and Zagat Survey, tap the social media site for advertising, loyalty programs, and other incentives, said Selvadurai. And the company continues to develop the concept of Foursquare itself, he said.

"Right now we're just building very, very basic tools for them. We're improving the process and getting the right stats," Selvadurai said in an interview. "I think you're going to see a lot more tweaks to the game itself, the game mechanics, and the game dynamics. We haven't done that in a while and I think there's a lot more room for interesting things that we've wanted to do for a while and that's going to happen over the next couple of months. But I can't tell you anything more beyond that."

During the MIDEM 2011 music conference on Saturday, Selvadurai, in conjunction with Lee Epting, director of content services at Vodafone Group, were the keynote speakers in a session on efficiently reaching new audiences with powerful platforms.

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