Techcrunch recently reported that Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley was none too pleased with Yelp’s recent check-in feature.  Yelp’s new check-in feature is a spitting image of Foursquare’s.

Crowley made the following comments on his blog

Shameless. At least innovate on top of it!

With an avalanche of money at stake in local online advertising,  there is good reason for a little tension. Grand proclamations have been made about the potential of local internet marketing for years, but companies have been slow to figure out how to rob the grave of the yellow pages, with the exception of Yelp. Now the newcomer, Foursquare, wants in on the action.  Yelp has a big lead on Foursquare in terms of traffic and user-generated data, but Foursquare seems to be getting a lot of viral growth lately.

So far, Yelp has been the go to resource for local reviews.  When it comes to local restaurant reviews, Yelp seems pretty dang useful.  When you want to check out a new restaurant, Yelp is a helpful validator.  The number of reviews and the rating is a pretty good indicator of the quality of a restaurant.   The problem with Yelp is that there are really only two meaningful indicators: ratings and number of reviews.  It is hard to trust a 4.5 star rating when there are only five reviews.    So people look for both a lot of reviews and high ratings.  Fine, but what does that really tell you? It tells you where the popular restaurants are, which you probably already know.

Yelp will tell me that Avec is the most reviewed place in Chicago and most people love it. But I don’t care about most people (sorry most people). I care about getting the lowdown from people I know.  Fat Tony knows his pizza joints, skinny Jenny finds the hot vegan spots. Foursquare puts the review within a social context and that is more valuable than a large database of reviews by people I don’t care about.

Unlike Yelp, the check-in feature is core to the Foursquare functionality.  Yelp is great for reading reviews, but Foursquare is more of a social experience.  Yelp may think that slapping a check-in feature on its site will do the trick, but I’m not so sure users are going to dive in.  Foursquare’s co-founder should calm down about the Yelp check-in knockoff.  Yelp is the one that needs to be a little nervous.


  1. But didn’t Foursquare copy the check-in concept from Gowalla?

    Dave Davidson
    01/26/10 at 12:42 pm
  2. Not sure. Does anyone know?

    01/29/10 at 10:29 am

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