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Reporters' Roundtable Ep. 45: Checking in with Facebook and FoursquareThe money people in tech love check-in companies. VCs are funneling funds into Foursquare, Gowalla, Loopt, and other apps that let users check-in and then broadcast their locations to friends and businesses. Why? On the Roundtable today we discuss these...
-- -- -- Hi everyone welcome to reporters roundtable -- people in San Francisco. This is the weekly podcast after our break from last week. Where we discussed a single tech topic each time today we're talking about -- the new hot -- technology business models which is the location and check in. As you may have heard a small social networking company FaceBook. Decided to get into the check in market with a product called FaceBook places it competes arguably with -- go wallow -- and many other. Location check in products we're gonna talk about that business today why people -- and what they get out of it where the business is where the money is and what's coming up next we've got great -- to discuss -- first of all here in the studio. Rejoining us again Claire Cain Miller from the New York Times thanks again for coming in and -- -- And joining us for the first time from Portland Oregon Adrian Jeffries of reed right read -- write web but. Thanks for coming in -- and the basement office every right you know what can you please tell your -- that you need another name I love the site but I can't say without stumbling over it. Solid and -- WW. Great site check it out if you haven't already com. Thanks again for joining us is is -- the really interesting topic I think. Net to get started Claire I wanna start with you. When I ask you to be on the show after you wrote this great story which was called. Have a right here what was called technology aside most people still declined to be located I didn't realize auto biographical the story it's -- Tell us about you know writing the story and your own you know you're not a user of these services. That's right I'm not using an you know location services and and -- -- to slow. I me. Co wrote the story with my colleague -- more than who is totally and all of this and -- and take better perspective. She uses all of them all the time. I guess it just doesn't seem so useful for me right now because man and my friends and -- and Cisco are using them I guess. I'm not really the in this super early -- -- tech crowd those that's not really -- a group but. -- less you wrote about this then yeah you you talked to a lot of people who are using these before we we get into this in in in super great depth. -- -- what if you can give the audience a summary of what is the location -- -- product just real briefly for those who who three people may not know. -- -- -- And -- Okay yeah I can't get it. Day our apps. Web sites but mostly cell phone apps. Where. When you and replace like say you -- Starbucks or Central Park or Brooklyn art museum or whatever it is. You check in on your one and that alert. Your friends or followers are people who are in -- social network with you on that -- That you're there and there's other -- re automatically checked and if you set it up that way in and automatically shows your location but basically it's a way of telling. The place and your friends -- why. -- question. For a lot of people to social thing. Say a EU go out for happy hour and you're at a bar and you know a lot of your friends -- in the same neighbor hut and you wanna meet up with them -- -- in smaller -- the -- He just say where you are NHL -- though. It's a wave its use -- social that gathers. Saddam it's also becoming a way it deals and coupons so when you check in -- Starbucks they might say thanks for checking -- five times this week here's a free cappuccino or whatever it. You know the way I was introduced to Twitter. Was sitting next to a friend a 21 amendment who put a Twitter not out on their Blackberry saying hey I'm actually First Amendment. So that was Twitter was the first location check him. Wasn't it yeah that's a good point eight people did use Twitter that a lot early on and now what are added locations do it automatically shows up not a lot of people are using now. -- -- -- Anyway well let's get into this so let's let's -- -- -- Adrian. Welcome again thanks for joining us what is in the mobile application check in for users from your perspective what do they get out of -- I'm well I think people are still figuring that out -- but there are. You know I think first -- fun. Which is hard to you understand until you try it. Because it's a simple and there's just something very sticky about it. Let there are other unexpected ways that it's. Starting TU. -- useful for people like a lot of people mention and it's kind of personal history if you. You can look back W chickens and he read in for the week in media if you -- -- and then -- you know if he. Try to migrate them back or something connection market. Your updates on foursquare and CD you repair and nectarine sitting room and I think -- -- it's making that just to him. It's kind of them. Kind of less subtle AM sort of bragging about -- And you're dealing marry you I am being so there's kind of like this conspicuous -- reason -- it to you. Nearly collided the people who started using foursquare early -- You know -- -- nightclub crowd in your city where people -- silly having bars they were hopping between him. From their product that we. -- -- -- -- So okay so I can see for certain crowd why people wanna do this. -- -- so many businesses companies starting to do -- there must be money here. There's a huge amount of money. I mean VCs are really into -- I think it 159. Dollars and that's and the beginning of 2009 in the company -- but also advertisers. Have been struck small businesses have been struggling to find a way to advertise online forever because after you know people thought -- in the yellow pages and really. Know how he places like Google. Are -- and sales force out every single right cleaner so. A lot of small businesses didn't know how to advertise and mining Yeltsin group honor changing -- but this is -- -- it a lot in that. A small business can reach you exactly when you walk in the stores like the most ideal thing you want someone. Who's in your store or near your store and interest in it and the phones and then self identifying where they're going as a way -- So who are the players here we know who the ones in the news the big ones are of course foursquare and FaceBook. Can we talk about some of the other companies really briefly and how they differentiate from from the big guys I guess there's -- how's that different. -- -- well I think that. Daryn. Two kinds of players here companies and there's lake. The players who are trying to be a platform and then their people who are trying to do is develop applications that will make use of location -- won't. So the big competition -- between. -- -- foursquare. Cologne Google's to -- that platform. Where. Where -- applications -- Tilton used them and I think Paris and other early players that -- The picture. Where Avi thing and -- Loops is. And then they're pretty basic limitations you can reprints Iron -- -- I am -- -- -- looked at something very interest -- -- just ran a campaign. With I think was virgin America or if -- checked in at certain places like taco trucks you'll get a free ticket. -- -- to -- -- for one -- yet to Mexico it is that why these businesses are so exciting because there are campaigns like that running on the check in apps. Yeah the promotions are huge do you mean good started as just a way to show your friends where you are so that anyone else with -- can pick up their opponents you grow up and -- and it didn't really take off that way. And and they sort of borrow them any ideas that -- -- had a nineteen -- checking in and all of that and its content a lot more popular and but the virgin America I think it's just think sample of how cute these promotions he got so -- with this week virgin America with energy CNET California Mexico fine. You checked into the top attracting got two for one tacos and two for one flight and -- -- -- for that -- getting a bunch of new customers and a lot of attention via. So is the business here is the challenge here among these these. Check in businesses. Who has the best sales team or because that's -- that's. Close it for small company moved to close a major promotional deal with an airline is a fairly big -- that that's a clue. It is and -- -- which is another one of -- that we haven't talked I evident just went live in August. It has Procter & Gamble -- -- best buy target Wal-Mart -- -- companies have got that went up they'll. How are we getting virgin and Macy's and P&G and all these guys. Who are are these people inside companies who who are buying these ads direct from these small little comp. Location companies are there are some. Aggregation play going on here some centralized sales with the you know what that's a business. Let's stop internal I think that's -- -- this -- -- central location services. -- -- I think it's a -- -- innovative marketing people who want to be you know it's like a good PR thing for virgin and whore or Macy's the look like they're on the cutting edge and I'm with the newest technology. I'm so I think it's just really. People within those marketing departments who are willing to take -- in hand I guess -- before it's like if you can reach someone on their phone when they're in your store. And I think in the case of shot hit they only pay at sort of like. Our -- -- only pay when you put Amanda the last thing -- on topic they only pay when someone walks in the -- uses. Claire tells little bit more about chop it because I didn't really know about this until you use that I need to check the -- I looked at it and it looks like the most brazenly commercial all the -- and -- tells what. How -- it differentiates so. First of all it's less of the social fuel and more of -- shopping tool on their very there and not really to show your friends are you are. You can use that but it like I went longer and then I I went to school nightclub. -- -- more about shop scene and you get points when you walk -- store and then you get points for doing things in the store like. If you -- apartment of a product of the points at American Eagle -- -- -- in the dressing room and an apartment at -- the -- environment the more point. So for the stores it like a way to get people in the door and in the dressing room and more likely to buy them mean and for people -- all these coupons. I -- and other differentiator is that with foursquare and -- while and the rest. You're checking in in your telling them where you are -- it -- take they or use the phone's GPS signal it's not always exactly accurate. Foursquare means top cat has -- -- little that kind of hot technology they put little tiny there's in this you mean that the stores. And when you go in and turn on the -- The phone's microphone will pick up an -- from about it humane here but don't -- -- there I actually. That was really interesting because -- just represent such a huge investment on the part of qualities. Stories like me -- to actually install something so that people could use -- -- it's just like really drives home how excited advertisers are about. The patient advocate baton. That's fascinating I was just going to ask about check in spam I mean. I actually saw in the Bart station here and Montgomery pal Bart station -- -- -- -- There was an ad running up against the wall thing check in at such and such resort and you'll get a free coupon -- like. A foursquare and -- and like. I'm not there. And then Michael Arrington in techcrunch had this great stories as I just to the virtual vacation I went to Dubai and Paris and I flew on the a 380 all this thing and I never left my -- -- just checking and all these -- So how important is. Is checking in. I guess it's not spam but its -- -- in speaking truth telling him yet and why -- people checking in places they're not I mean. -- -- can do for coupons but of people it is this an issue with these services are due do we need verified check -- to make these things work. -- -- -- -- Yeah I think that's the problem. That was when things are bad -- fees for -- -- -- you can't it. A place doesn't exist in these its directory -- and splat. And it's going to be pretty labor intensive and to go through and in the -- they places and they -- right away just to see how -- taken to to meet them. And there still -- okay. Well Marshall Kirkpatrick -- every. Great web also was -- what if someone tag the house Marshall Kirkpatrick has even if -- -- you don't want that out there you don't necessarily want people not in real. -- -- I was imagining. Like teenage years his parents the theory yet so you need to put so much -- making their house you know the party house -- -- And having no idea about it. Or I could check in at your house. And tell my friends that there's a part of your -- even though I'm nowhere near the well. Actually -- -- but you have to be. In this -- A so FaceBook does only work with -- with those geo location on the phones. I think -- Now one of that the things about. This this whole concept that people. Think people seem to be very interested in doing more of this if they seem to be getting into our brains and giving us using game mechanics. Badges. Points levels. How much of the game mechanic. Concept as part of the check and market. I think it's huge. And other company's enough. Earned for the -- but please announcements through the and they sort of built lake is second life it's like even more second life where there is of real life physical. Aspect -- And I think you social gaming is really big and adding that keeps them to speak the -- room. Where I think it's kind of hard it's kinda hard to -- and say exactly why it works it's just something people. -- a little competition thing at the show -- the thing and the social -- and important because that public prevent summon the stand like you if you're checking in just it coupons and you're not even there and that. Your lessons that I can do that if you -- it's a socially like if she checked -- to a bar and you're not actually there on your friends comment tunneling Apple. I think the social aspect is a huge incentive for people -- election that. I guess one of. This the biggest. Game mechanic things the most famous in mechanic if you yours foursquare mayor concept and there is a great post by premier forget the site -- -- up. Is that if you are if you run a small business with the physical presence and you don't know who your -- you're an -- It's -- look at but that's you must know your mayors and you must treat this person with a great amount of love and respect because this is your best ambassador. Are companies now even ones who maybe aren't as up on this it -- -- -- Federer. Are more more businesses looking at these locations -- things and trying to figure who these people largely muted them or is -- -- and and up and coming content. I don't know out had a big urban areas and and it salmon just any market hit all the time -- like the little chalkboard that had some -- are some valley and it says this person's mayor or -- -- five times and get animate and -- our offers businesses tools I think. Right now they're still free and later they plan to charge them so you can track who comes so businesses -- -- on the back and who's come mean and whose mayor I think people are really excited about this because it's like. You know those little paper loyalty cards we used to carry in our part in our wallet and you -- always lose them it's like I -- and matches and this is a way for that would be much Republican obvious for the company to. See who comes -- And -- this brings up the interest in question the trip into -- privacy I mean obviously if I'm using one of these apps. I -- broadcasting my location. And maybe other behaviors as well to my friends. Now with. Things like this like like what you just -- I will also be telling giving that information in directly. To the businesses that go into. What are these startups doing about privacy of location and of other personal information. I think basically the these companies are giving users control law and basically. That -- Relieving them of the burden of having to deal with privacy issues saying well you know users are choosing to use it -- -- -- -- -- and there's some. -- there's varying degrees of -- unity and how much controlling you have lake. With FaceBook latency pretty much acting from the beginning to everything and -- On seeking to second beginning when they're all your friends can -- new applications. You can't decide you know whether some friends can be trusted to do this and other friends can't -- and so I think. At and I think that's where. The real problem is is that. Right now that's in news that users don't really have an understanding how this data could be instant he cheering what they're giving up exactly -- You can just imagine a scenario where you you really can't. Trust that your data is can be used certainly. Aren't if you -- if it foursquare. If something happens if something happens to foursquare and in and -- can't you lose control of your data a unit that company it's five learn. Because out of business then -- could you data could be sold to insurance companies making. -- Oh that is just a horrible thought. I mean I could be my insurance rates could go up because I'm spending too much time at such and such bars are not. -- Man insurance people and open and listening to this but that's nice yet -- that. Seen -- yet it's scary thing I think about privacy is that it. -- -- I think it's very employers it there's and the temptations. You keep closer and what -- really music in the -- -- -- story about some cops who are busted where. The home in new cheers to you and your actions listen to you. On -- New York City because. Like -- EZ pass RFID tags. And so it's aren't like it creates -- temptation for your players to kind of micro manage and track it back battery life and. That's one of the -- -- that -- but -- new places thing is that. On foursquare -- wallet that's like a small group of friends you've chosen to share location button on Facebook. There are ways to opt it only shows some friends and not others but -- -- little complicated and like for most people -- the FaceBook and and that includes Abbas and an admittedly don't even know mean me you know your parents' friends whenever you don't necessarily want to share that location. Everybody don't you think Adrian. I totally agree I think. Facebook's advance major advantage and disadvantage in the locations -- the fact that we have such a right to friends and -- on the -- -- -- network effect where. You can get more utility out of it says the same time there's few fun things but you don't want to doing yard. Let's drill into FaceBook a little bit here of course that the reason we're doing the show and -- and one of the the big pieces of tech news the last couple weeks with Facebook's. Launch of its sort of -- chicken site called places which functionally is quite good I mean I've used it is easy to check in the the updates are using it that are. -- -- FaceBook have a special and different responsibility from the other -- services in the space because of their their size. Or -- -- privacy regs or anything like that it is FaceBook a special player. I think FaceBook is a special player -- -- They are. They're the ambassador for location services they have such huge user base and for a lot of people this is gonna be their first introduction. -- Internet. To broadcast their real time location. So I think yeah I mean you've been stated -- the -- and responsibility to teach you it's heading he spends. How are they how are they doing in in that. The -- home. -- that not not gooder greater what do you I think at its great friends you know it's it's very useful and it's can be fun for people and people were linking. -- -- whether they're do you really. -- -- I don't think they do a good job of presenting the complete picture of what adding location -- it's here is the profile -- reasons. Have also been some pretty funny little things where because your fans can -- Q&A place. There lake and you don't remember where I read this whether it was an ad age are a lot -- not charm but there are -- a few couples out at a bar. And one person decided attacked all their friends and who they were there with -- six people and it turns out one of the couples that we'll someone else that they can go out that night and Tuesday. Canceled Monday and aren't they -- something else to do it home minute and then there and and -- bar so. There's there's all these little white lie issues that for people who aren't used to the idea -- elevation. Could be a pretty big deal and if not always seems to attract at the complaints -- another thing. Like it's speaking of which it and it -- just came -- -- from mass market that can law enforcement get access to a person's location based social network history if they are looking for someone as happened if that happened yet. Yeah I know that has happened yet thank you -- step in yes. You law enforcement. They have deals with the cellphone companies and then looking here. But here records and yeah definitely if there is a subpoena saying. FaceBook and -- would have to you. Argue whether or not they're gonna release that -- and that's probably still speed to ten -- and we but there's a definite possibility. There anything on there. I've heard about law enforcement using other sites that are more public like Twitter mom which is totally public it's -- -- like -- would have to get permission to watch what's going on I think in Pennsylvania there's something about. These flash mobs -- organize and wetter and to the pleas for watching I'm so yes I can -- it happen now. It's still on FaceBook -- what effect will -- places have we think on. Foursquare go wallow -- it's -- a right to those businesses that they need to be acquired by Twitter to they have a chance it can they differentiate and stay independent. In in light of Facebook's play in this space. It's a tough one for them I think most of them are partnering with FaceBook and I'm not sure exactly which ones -- the -- loops possibly foursquare. So that when you check in on one of those placed the one of those services you also check in with places and vice Versa. I'm so that partnering that it is -- probably people are gonna check into six different. Apps every -- enters -- Right thing and and and FaceBook we think will they're not going away in the space. No I think -- and deeper I mean what -- an artist's right now it's still pretty shallow and it has -- a lot more. -- -- now there are other kinds of -- we've been talking about location check in but there's also. Financial check in -- for example into an extent. I guess -- -- There's music check in which is Apple trying to do now with picking -- our global success but it's early yet are we entering an error basically. Check in check and my thoughts check my place -- I my health I -- too much information over sharing and make everything you spent on the scale it -- that there's -- the good gravy now I wanna -- want to ask you about this in particular because you did that stories saying that this is a generational difference you know. People sharing so much about -- where they are what they're doing. -- It's been my generations still will creeped out by this -- -- -- houses shaping up as as as techno. As the youth basically people who -- born with iPods and their hands. Grows up. So Sam Altman has the CEO of loops one of the service that they're at about said the magic age and then it people born before after 1981 you know people born after 1981 use these services and -- a much a problem with that and people born before 1981. Are either reluctant to use them or her but all these privacy settings and place when they do use them. So it's certainly a generational thing. Shop can't from the interviews I did is attracting a broader demographic because it's the coupon thank them so I talked to a lot. Women in the midwest and in the south who are over forty who are using now when they go to buy groceries at -- martyr you know toys -- target. Which makes sense because it's less of a social thing. That financial -- let the mansion and Spike Lee and those are. Where you every time you make a -- -- connected to your credit card and that will put it out on Twitter are on the site and at first it's like why would anyone do that but have the most interesting conversation with slightly the founder the other day. His point was that this would give you better recommendations than any other service because. It knows that you bought this song on iTunes and this concert ticket and he went to this -- And you've got this pair of shoes and you went to this restaurant and you shot -- this department store and so they can take all of those -- and say. Other people also like this band and this brand issues and this type of beer. Lake this department stores or -- -- you should try it out so it's sort of like turning into a recommendation service which I can see from utility. I was born before 1981. And I can see the value of the improve recommendations. But. That freaks me the hell out and I've talked to -- -- of a -- be about this like. You know it's okay so I go to the restaurant I could have -- many remote like -- -- not a product -- paid endorsement as an actual endorsement I like that restaurant. And I'm I'm happy to say there but then I forget to turn this thing off when I go by natively Jaipur. My wife or something like that I don't want the whole world knowing about the -- -- -- supposed to manage when we're supposed to be checking in with whether its location or purchasing or not mean. How do we get our heads around this thing. It's acquired habit I mean I think -- I think with those services you can choose to. It doesn't. Automatically post higher credit card purchases you can automatically choose to post it on -- you might forget but think think about how no one. Wrote tweak two years -- then and now like. -- and -- that makes me look really weird but amendments are sitting at a restaurant Rockingham street and Michael I think I could write a Twitter -- about that my left hand Twitter about -- and it's like become an ingrained pattern of behavior so. -- -- Right if the -- saint sorry go ahead please have it as just in states where it's saying it there's some checking. Checking startup ideas that are not creepy like -- wrote about some. Startups -- Chinese decent in the EU like adding and keep your eyes but. To clear file Alice TV -- a lot of people use it American rats yes. So tons a couple companies it's sentencing in the Arctic it's -- is doing that are -- connects them. And Montserrat. As. I should know about that but but but but that's -- It's brilliant. -- -- TV dot com reeling it's basically connecting with your friends and having conversations about what you action recommendations and just bringing all that Craigslist out of wearing on to you. And say -- checking when you're watching sphere like I'm watching you know like the entire first season -- that -- when it. Ventures thing not like -- paying at the Apple you just write music purchased. So we haven't talked much about two giants in the social or at least in the infrastructure space Google is one. Now Google has a service called latitude which -- tell your friends where you are I don't hear it. Any buzz and latitude at all much where is Google in the location check in space -- At I -- this is -- actually regret when. -- -- post about it when. -- -- out latitude and the tenor of the post was did Google just kill all the other mobile social networks. At the -- -- -- -- -- It has already -- serious. I think. Backing means something is like 10% -- users to to comes you. Written. -- and injured users and in the eighty million users. Who are actually using it but it's not. Really gotten any of the buzz that foursquare and that's -- is that because Google really doesn't get social. -- -- Yeah I think they are really anti social well as you know Google has a social graph for everybody but that's social graph just -- Doesn't really correlate with your social graph and relay it needs like all the rain and people that you. Your different social circles and it's just kind of messy and that make changes -- made come out. Social network that has any success. Which I think -- -- and so. Yeah and beat out of it but. -- now need to really get it. They haven't yet acquired one of the major social. Check that oh patient check in -- you know they acquired dodge ball which was accompanied -- point. That that that crack Dennis proudly at minute foursquare sounded -- -- first. And not with a locations are gonna -- that big that it. And then you left is spread foursquare not -- huge success. -- -- by ports Britain. I guess maybe that's one of the reasons that these companies are still in the business because there are still waiting for FaceBook -- from Google and for Twitter. To really make -- -- now Twitter has. A from some -- you can check in with location. But again that's one of those services that's out there that should be big but for some reason isn't. Why is -- not -- keep others aren't turning on the occasion I. Twittered I think about the numbers of people who have turn on -- it's just a little switch you can do open that we'll say either that you're leading from payment Cisco California or you can say. I'm -- from the CNET studio you can create names of places you can get a specific is you want. I heard from one developer to put it doesn't really the numbers but I heard from one developer who's. Who's using the API and can see how many people are using it that it's less than 1% of Twitter users. And I think it's partly because. It doesn't there's not really -- the year incentives and reason to trauma -- whether the whether it's with. Fourth Grammy for for what network if you didn't use location matters not so much about location. But it would be a lot more -- -- then if people use it because. On you know marketers want to have want to use location and access to that and a lot of web -- do things even Google's new real time thing you can look at all the real time posts nearby. If you feel an earthquake and only look at -- nearby -- would be useful as people turn it -- but it does not. We are right so we're. Nearly out of partners when asked what's next what's the next frontier. In in check in. -- you wanna go first on that. -- I think it's any depend on its. It's dependent Iron Man people getting Smartphones. Month considering I you really have access to -- use. Service is if -- don't Smartphone. Tons last thing I Redlands happened Americans like you did too when he -- in accordance and now its Smartphones and I think. Then it's in its -- -- actors and after people start using the mobile. So it's still early days where. Yeah I think gotten this becoming mainstream is is the next frontier at the story today that last week has been Forrester data that. People argued about the Forrester data -- it essentially said that 1%. Of Americans are using these services regularly and only 4% and even ever tried -- even so it's super early and I think it becoming mainstream you know when. When it's not as young tech savvy people and cities -- -- you know. People in suburban -- with kids and families and older people and farmers in the whole wide -- of people finding that's that's useful. -- -- -- Right and what that we're gonna have to wrap up this reporters roundtable that agent Jeffrey from read write web thank you so much for joining us in -- stuff over read write Web.Com. Claire Cain Miller from the New York Times. Always pleasure to read your stuff is great see here in studio thanks again for coming in. Seeking if you have questions for me or for the roundtable guests in general you can email them to roundtable at cnet.com. You can see this. Podcast with all the show notes and previous shows as well at reporters roundtable dot cnet.com. Following on Twitter I'm Rafe are a FE Clearwater what are your Twitter -- -- -- CM CL AI RE CM. Adrian. Eighty I -- -- people -- fascinating. And that's a follow me on Twitter you wanna see what's next until next time we'll see on reporters roundtable by everyone. I think.