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Foursquare raises $50 million in new funding

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Foursquare on Friday announced that it has raised $50 million in funding that will help the "check-in" app maker expand internationally and build out new products.

"The thing that's most exciting is that we think we're inventing the future here a bit," Dennis Crowley, Foursquare's co-founder and CEO, said in an interview. "We're doing things nobody has really done before, and to be able to raise this amount of capital will really allow us to look at the white board and accomplish the goals we have written up there -- things we've been wanting to do for awhile now."

The funding is the latest announcement this week for the New York start-up, which also passed 10 million registered users and inked a deal with American Express.

Foursquare's collaboration with the credit card company will allow users to tie their activity in the Foursquare smartphone app to their American Express accounts and get discounts on their monthly statements when they both check in and buy things using their AmEx card at select retailers nationwide.

Crowley said that one of the more immediate uses for the funding would be hiring engineers in New York and San Francisco who wouldbe tasked with continuing to build out Foursquare's existing services -- such as the Foursquare Merchant Platform, which allows businesses to offer discounts to Foursquare users and gives them data on when people check in at their business and how often.

"The Foursquare Merchant Platform is used by more than 400,000 merchants, and there's a lot more room to grow there," Crowley said. "About 50% of our users are coming from outside of the U.S., and we believe there's a lot of room to grow there too. Right now we're seeing a lot of traction in Brazil, a little bit in India and Russia, and we want to keep that going."

To maintain such momentum -- in the face of challenges from smaller start-ups like Gowalla and tech giants Google and Facebook -- funding is crucial, but $50 million should be enough to achieve what the company has planned, Crowley said.

The latest funding round was led by Andreessen-Horowitz, with contributions from O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Union Square Ventures and Spark Capital.

"The investors who stepped up in this round, they've all invested in us before," he said. "It's a big vote of confidence from our existing investors in what we're doing as a company. They believe in what we're doing, they're showing us that and they're really giving us the resources to keep doing what we're doing."

RELATED:

Foursquare has more than 10 million users

Foursquare says its business grew 3,400% in 2010

About 1 in 5 smartphone owners use location-based check-in apps

-- Nathan Olivarez-Giles

twitter.com/nateog

Photo: Dennis Crowley, co-founder and CEO of Foursquare, presents an award at the 15th annual Webby Awards in New York on June 13, 2011. Credit: Lucas Jackson/Reuters

 
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