Foursquare is back on my homescreen, not for long but I wish…

My wife and I are in Lisbon for about 5 days. At the airport in Paris, I was surprised to see her pick a paper version of the “Guide du routard”. Few seconds after I was checking out their website: ugly and not responsive. An app? Not for Lisbon. I’m going to pass on the epic 30 minutes I poorly used to download a dozen apps about Lisbon, all pretty average, conventional, cold… taking no risk, making no promises.

So here we are, in Lisbon, with about 15 tips from friends and our Guide du Routard. I must say we are agreeably surprised by the tone and the quality of the recommendations of the guide even though it’s very much focused on food rather than culture (which is more the Lonely Planet style).

Although we trust our friends and our paper guide, those tips still feel pretty narrow and static. It lacks more recent, popular opinions.

Here comes Foursquare. I realize it is still installed on my phone… So lost on the 4th screen. I haven’t used it in months (maybe a year…) but today I am going to give it a try... Woah ! Great reviews, great tips, authentic tone from the users, simple yet powerful filters, incredibly well presented. It just works. I use it a second, a third, a fourth time. It allows us to double-check the recommendation we got as well as discover new places on the go. Even though it is limited to food, nightlife and shopping, it’s working like a charm.

I remember this post from Fred Wilson about Foursquare and his founder, Dennis Crowley. It seemed at the time that the CEO knew where they were going:

But 4 years after, Foursquare failed at keeping me hooked. I’m not even sure how I will use it when we’ll be back in Paris. The app seems to have a found a strong product-market fit while failing to deliver a persistent lasting value. How deceptive.

In my humble opinion, I think that Foursquare has the product DNA to become the empire of recommendation but it lacks inner soul and editorial content.

For what it’s worth, few hints on what would make me use Foursquare on a weekly basis whether I am in Paris or traveling:

  • I wish Foursquare had local and traveling experts, full time, who could deliver daily updates and tips on what’s hot or not in a city. They could be sponsored. That would bring more consistency.

  • I wish Foursquare was closer to Product Hunt in terms of updates, community empowerment and so on.

  • I wish Foursquare was not limited to food, nightlife and shopping, but would also cover culture and events.

Foursquare is the very best product and tech there is within the local recommendation space. It’s even an incredible community.

Now give it a soul and make it an empire!