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Foursquare's head of product checks out of company

After four years, Alex Rainert is saying goodbye to the place-based social network he helped conceive.

An older version of Foursquare encouraged people to "check in" to unlock their city. KAREN BLEIER/AFP/Getty Images

Foursquare's head of product, Alex Rainert, is checking out of the place-based social network he designed with long-time friend Dennis Crowley.

"After four incredibly intense and rewarding years at Foursquare, it's time for me to move on," Rainert wrote in a post Wednesday on his personal blog.

Rainert has been a cohort of Crowley's since before the two of them worked together on Dodgeball, a location-sharing service that was the predecessor to Foursquare. His exit comes as the New York-based company, which has a modest user base of 40 million people, finds itself in the awkward position of having to make money while it still determines the best way sell itself to the masses. Despite popularizing the concept of checking in to venues, Foursquare's pitch du jour is that it is a master at local search -- aka it's a better version of Yelp.

"Dennis and Alex have known each other for more than ten years and came to this decision together after weeks of discussions," a company spokesperson told CNET. "After four years of running non-stop to help build Foursquare to where it is today, including our current product cycle, Alex wanted to take a deep breath before moving onto something new. Knowing this is as crucial time in the company's history as ever, both he and Dennis thought this decision best set Foursquare up for the future."

Four-year-old Foursquare has had its ups and downs and is still struggling to find its identity in a social networking world currently dominated by mobile messaging and photo apps. Be it for personal reasons or otherwise, Rainert's exit at this "crucial time" is a telling indication that Foursquare is still miles away from checking into a real business.

Rainert said he has no immediate plans except to "slow down and take a deep breath for what feels like the first time in four years."

(Via AllThingsD)