@ Open Mobile Summit: Foursquare CEO talks about 'turning life into a game'

SAN FRANCISCO — “We’re turning life into a game” and trying to “make the world a little more interesting to explore,” Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley said this morning here at the Open Mobile Summit. The company, which is less than two years old now has more than 4 million users, but finds itself competing with the likes of Facebook Inc. following the recent launch of its Places feature. While Crowley said Facebook’s entrance into the space “is driving us to be a better company,” it’s hard to ignore the size and scale of its new largest competitor.

When Crowley founded the company he made a decision early on to focus less on building the product and put more emphasis on building and opening its API. The Twitter-like move has enabled developers to build their own unique apps and experiences around Foursquare. “I think some of the most interesting stuff is not coming from us,” he said. As he walked through the various features of the platform, Crowley said he imagines a time soon where smart phones will “come to life” and make recommendations or automate more features without requiring the user to do everything manually. Foursquare’s system of awarding badges to users for a variety of things has also caught on well, he said. In addition to its regular stable of badges, Foursquare has also occasionally introduced limited badges like it’s recent I Voted badge, which voters could earn when checking into their polling place during last week’s election. “It’s like Pokemon for adults,” Crowley said. “We can actually use some of these badges to change people’s behavior.”

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