After Years of Challenges, Foursquare Has Found its Purpose — and Profits

In the spring of 2016, Foursquare CEO Jeff Glueck went on CNBC to make a bold prediction: Chipotle comparable sales would fall by 29 percent in its first quarter. The network’s anchor seemed skeptical. The fast-food chain was reacting to some health scares at the time, but no one was predicting nearly as steep a drop in revenue. “What is the technology here? What have you got that enables you to do this?” the anchor asked.

.. Foursquare had reinvented itself as a location intelligence company for business

.. Glueck had been making the rounds for less than a year, seeding the market with all kinds of predictions based on his company’s data — how many new iPhones Apple would sell, or how well McDonald’s all-day breakfast launch was going. The Chipotle forecast was the boldest yet, and it held true.

.. The startup had accumulated mountains of data about where people shopped and traveled but hadn’t figured out how to monetize it. Today, that puzzle seems to have been solved: Foursquare is on the path to $100 million in revenue

.. The reward for sharing? Stickers. Badges. Friendly competition to become the mayor of a favorite bar. And, critically, being part of a community of people sharing recommendations on the best of everything around them.

.. “He initially thought this company would build a local Yellow Pages-type business,”

  1. .. Asset number one: The more than 11 billion check-ins tracking people in real life since 2009.
  2. Asset number two: The four million monthly updates to its Places database — changes in address, phone number, a Japanese restaurant that was now a spaghetti joint.
  3. And then there was the sleeper, asset number three: 100,000 developers tapping into the Foursquare API — its location technology — for free

Enormous companies like Yahoo and Pinterest were using it a billion times a year; for example, when you pin a photo in Pinterest and tag its location, that’s using Foursquare’s data. But Foursquare had never asked these companies to pay.

.. The company needed to think of itself as a location data company. Based on GPS and other location signals, Foursquare could tell what business a user was visiting — something no other company could do as reliably.

.. It asked those big companies to start paying for its API;

.. the developers on the other end of the line basically laughed and said, “Yeah, we were wondering when you were going to start charging.”

.. the flywheel concept, a visual metaphor for business. When first pushed, a flywheel moves slowly and with great effort. With every successive revolution, the pace quickens. To the outsider, it appears the momentum is sudden, but, in fact, it’s the product of a steady grind.

.. investors told him it would take eight to 10 years to make the business work.

.. Ninety-two percent of commerce takes place in real life, not online. That means Google can tell you about only 8 percent of what everyone is doing with their spending habits.

.. Foursquare has signed deals with Snapchat to improve its geo-filtering. More than one million users have agreed to leave location sharing on all the time so Foursquare can track and analyze their movements; through a partnership with Nielsen, that data is then being connected to consumers’ purchasing data, so that marketers can understand how ads people see directly relate to purchases they make.

.. “Three of the top five hedge funds are using Foursquare data to give them an investing edge.”

.. it’s a location intelligence company — something that should be measured the same way as a services-as-a-software or programmatic advertising firm

Postgres GIS Address Standardizer

This is a question address canonicalization and parsing. Essentially what you’re talking about is handled through a gazetteer (geographical rule set). There are two ways to do this right,

  1. address_standardizer from the PostGIS project and certainly better if you’re only using United States addresses.
  2. pgsql-postal may be a better method for international addresses.

I’ll show the address standardizer version for the address,

And, then we can use it like this.

SELECT * FROM standardize_address('us_lex',
   'us_gaz', 'us_rules', '10511 Homestead Rd, Pahrump, NV 89061');
 building | house_num | predir | qual | pretype |   name    | suftype | sufdir | ruralroute | extra |  city   | state  | country | postcode | box | unit 
----------+-----------+--------+------+---------+-----------+---------+--------+------------+-------+---------+--------+---------+----------+-----+------
          | 10511     |        |      |         | HOMESTEAD | ROAD    |        |            |       | PAHRUMP | NEVADA | USA     | 89061    |     | 
(1 row)

Planet’s API-first vision for satellite imagery

Instead of chasing resolution to see more with a single picture, we’re going after a high temporal cadence to see things every day. The beauty is that this lets people take action with the data. For example, deforestation monitoring typically focuses on monthly reports to track acres that are damaged. With Planet, a park service can get an alert within a day and go and stop it.

.. The idea to get a complete snapshot is unprecedented. If you look at the satellite imagery in Google Maps, for example, it might be a couple months old in major cities. Outside of these dense areas, updates can take years.

.. When a disaster happens, there will be tons of shots the next day (e.g. in Haiti or Nepal after an earthquake), but no one’s watching the day before. The historical forensics make Planet really different.

.. Our customers in agriculture focus on the health of plants. We capture red, green, blue channels and also near-infrared. This is a non-visible band that plugs into a new algorithm called NDVI to approximate plant health.

.. Whenever you look at Google Maps, thousands of images are stitched together to give a consistent view. That process of stitching the images together is mostly done by hand.

The App That Wants to Simplify Postal Addresses

A British startup is assigning a unique name to every meter of Earth’s surface. Should addressing systems be universalized—and privatized?

.. Its address doesn’t just tell [you] where it is, but also what road to take to get to the front gate

.. What3Words envisions a universal addressing system, functional in any language, that refers to locations more precisely than street addresses can.

.. its leaders split Earth’s complete land and ocean surface area to 57 trillion three-by-three meter squares. Every individual grid square has a distinctive name, expressed as three words

.. there is no free or open database of how every What3Words address lines up with a GPS coordinate. In fact, charging for access to that database is exactly how the startup What3Words makes money.

.. Mongolia is the least densely populated sovereign nation on the planet.

.. “There’s really no addresses at all for most of the country,” Sheldrick told me.

.. What3Words will provide a national addressing system for Mongolia

.. In the early 2000s, the federal government and other organizations began using these IDs, called DUNS numbers, to organize companies that wanted to bid for contracts.

.. The U.S. government has paid Dun & Bradstreet millions to use the DUNS system.

 .. At first, mail was addressed to rural customers only by their name, city, and state. Local postmasters memorized the rest.

.. “It’s only within the last decade that every house has a street address,” says Nancy Pope, a historian at the Smithsonian National Postal Museum. “You end up with these street addresses that are in the tens of thousands, because they’re on a rural road tens of miles from the nearest town.”

.. What3Words addresses are designed to fail catastrophically, and therefore noticeably, Sheldrick told me. A single misplaced letter will never send a package 10 miles in the wrong direction, as a reversed digit in a latitude-longitude coordinate might. Instead, it will send it to another continent.

.. Once inside the ecosystem, its ownership could start extracting rents.

 .. But it doesn’t matter if users personally trust Sheldrick or the What3Words team. Intellectual property rights can easily change hands, and they always outlive their owners and their owners’ good intentions.

..

This means, for example, that a town is barred by law from releasing a dataset describing when garbage will get picked up where.

The British government is now spending £5 million to rebuild an open version of the exact same postcode registry that it sold off three years ago.

Beating Uber with a PostgreSQL prototype

The other day I got a link to an interesting post published by Uber, which has caught our attention here at Cybertec: https://eng.uber.com/go-geofence
The idea behind geo-fencing is to provide information about an area to users. Somebody might want to find a taxi near a certain location or somebody might simply want to order a Pizza from a nearby restaurant.

According to the blog post Uber has solved this problem using some hand-made GO code. Uber’s implementation: 95% <5ms.
Another Blog also had an eye on it: https://medium.com/@buckhx/unwinding-uber-s-most-efficient-service-406413c5871d#.vdsg0fhoi

Of course, to a team of PostgreSQL professionals, 5 ms is quite a lot so we tried to do better than that.