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Uber Checks Into Foursquare’s Massive Location Database

May 25, 2016, 10:21 PM UTC
Andrew Matthews PA Wire/PA Images

Remember Foursquare, once the fun app best known for its “checking in” feature that bestowed virtual mayorships upon ordinary citizens?

Over the last several months, the company has been refocusing its business as a rich location data provider, and its latest customer is none other than ride-hailing giant Uber, the two companies said on Wednesday. The companies have signed a multi-year deal, and for a certain period of time, Uber won’t sign on any additional location data providers for the U.S.

In short, Uber will now tap into Foursquare’s location data, especially it’s “point of interest” data (restaurants, stores, landmarks, etc.) to enhance its database of locations. Foursquare says it has more than 85 million locations globally. And because Foursquare’s data comes from users’ smartphones, it’s able to collect it on a much more granular level and differentiate between a restaurant’s front and back doors, for example. This can come in handy to help drivers more accurately locate a rider, or where to pick up a food order through the company’s food delivery service, UberEats, for example.

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Although Uber is Foursquare’s customer, the ride-hailing company will also share corrections and improvements to the data with Foursquare, Uber confirmed.

What’s interesting is that Uber already had location data suppliers—Google and TomTom. Uber has long used Google’s maps product as a foundation of its app and technology, and last year, it struck a deal with navigation software company TomTom to use its data for Uber’s driver app, which includes turn-by-turn navigation. However, Foursquare won’t be replacing either one of these services, according to Uber.

Still, it wouldn’t be surprising if the ride-hailing company is experimenting with other providers and looking to wean itself off these companies’ data. Google (GOOG), for one, is now becoming a competitor to Uber because of their shared interest in self-driving cars and their respective developments in that area. Last year, Uber was one of the bidders for Nokia’s HERE mapping unit, and while it lost out to a group of German automakers, it signaled the company’s desire to take its mapping in-house.

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Uber is joining a list of Foursquare customers that includes Apple, Twitter, Pinterest, Samsung, Microsoft, Yahoo, WeChat, and Garmin, among others. In the fall, Foursquare began to showcase its data’s power by publishing predictions of the new iPhone’s sales, and more recently a prediction of a 29% drop in Chipotle’s sales. In both cases, it was correct.

In January, Foursquare announced $45 million in new funding at a valuation that has allegedly dramatically dropped, according to media reports. Jeff Glueck, previously the company’s COO, also took over as CEO from co-founder Dennis Crowley at the same time.