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Microsoft invests $15M in Foursquare, buys location data

With the strategic partnership, the Redmond company plans to improve the contextual awareness of Bing and Windows Phone.

Foursquare CEO Dennis Crowley pictured at South by Southwest Interactive in March 2013.
James Martin/CNET

Microsoft is funneling $15 million into Foursquare and has agreed to a multi-year deal to license the New York-based startup's location data, Foursquare announced Tuesday.

Four-year-old Foursquare makes a Web and mobile application for checking in to places and finding nearby hot spots. The company, which has 45 million registered users, completed a $35 million round of funding in December.

Microsoft's money will be pooled with those funds as Foursquare figures out how to make money on its own. As for the licensing arrangement, Microsoft is buying access to Foursquare's database of more than 60 million entries and 5 billion check-ins so that it can better its own products, Bing and Windows Phone in particular.

"So, in the near future, when you use Microsoft devices powered by the Windows and Windows Phone operating systems and products like Bing, places will be enhanced by Foursquare -- to provide contextually-aware experiences and the best recommendations of any service in the world," Foursquare said in a statement.

Foursquare declined to share licensing terms, but noted that the arrangement amounts to a multi-year commercial and technical partnership.

Microsoft is no stranger to making bets on social startups. In 2007, the Redmond-based company invested $240 million in Facebook for a 1.6 percent stake in the social network. Seven years later, no one is questioning that decision.