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Foursquare unlocks $35M to figure things out

With the new money, the 4-year-old company can resolve to prove the skeptics wrong in the new year.

Real-time recommendations are suggestions for things to see, eat, and do nearby. They come in the form of user-created Foursquare tips that are automatically delivered via push notifications whenever you go somewhere new.

Foursquare said Thursday that it has raised $35 million in Series D financing. The news comes just weeks after the places-centric social network completed the iPhone rollout of its most ambitious -- or obnoxious, depending on your preferences -- feature to date: real-time recommendations.

The equity round was led by new investor DFJ Growth and included participation from another new investor, Capital Group's Smallcap World Fund. Barry Schuler, managing director for DFJ Growth, is joining Foursquare's board. Previous investors sat this round out, though their convertible debt investments from April converted to equity.

Foursquare isn't disclosing its current valuation, but AllThingsD reported that the company's value is slightly higher than $600 million.

"2013 is the year Foursquare proved itself," a Foursquare spokesperson told CNET, citing the release of real-time recommendations and six revenue products. The startup, which now has 45 million registered users, has more than doubled revenue quarter over quarter in 2013, he said.

Clearly the company and its CEO Dennis Crowley would have you believe that it's all sunshine and rainbows, but the reality is a bit gloomier as 4-year-old Foursquare is still sorting its way through an existential crisis. Is it a check-in app? Is it local search (like Yelp)? Or is it for unsolicited-but-possibly-welcome tips? There also have been a bunch of high-profile departures. Crowley's right-hand man Alex Rainert, who was heading up product since Foursquare's earliest days, left in November.

Foursquare has raised $127 million in funding to date. In April, Foursquare added $41 million in a debt financing round, which means the company has either already burned through that cash or is trying to save up for a rainy day.

Either way, the new funds mean that Foursquare can kick off 2014 with the resolution to make believers out of skeptics. Specifically, the $35 million will be spent on improving the company's passive geolocation technology, figuring out its business, hiring engineers, and expanding internationally, Foursquare said.