Two location companies that are more important than Foursquare, MyTown, Loopt, Gowalla, or Whrrl

I still love Foursquare. I check in nearly everywhere I go. I still also check in with Gowalla (my checkins) and Yelp (my Yelps) and a variety of other services. Why? Because these tools continue to evolve very quickly and the world of location-based services is getting more and more important every day. You know that if you read Techmeme or Techcrunch with any regularity.

But I’ve found two companies that are more important than the already hyped Foursquare or Gowalla: Goby (Crunchbase details) and TheDealMap (Crunchbase details on parent company Center’d).

First, what do they do?

Goby lets you find things around you, like hiking trails. Try to do THAT with any other service!

TheDealMap lets you find deals around you, with easily 50x more deals and offers than any other service I’ve found.

But don’t take my word for it, listen into the CEOs tell you about their products and come back for more after you watch these two:

Goby Video:

TheDealMap Video:

Now, notice what these two actually do: the bring you REAL utility on top of location. How am I using these two services?

Well, on July 4th we’re going to be in Los Angeles, so I did a search on for fireworks in Los Angeles on 7/4/10. Brings back a list of things to do with a map of where those things are close to me.

I need more exercise, so I did another search for “hiking, Half Moon Bay, anytime.”

But, now, here’s the magic. Click on the map, then drag the pin to a new location. It shows you the same search results, but for the new location! This is very cool and VERY important for getting real utility out of the location you are in or the location you will be in (something Foursquare or Gowalla has really no clue about).

Next, let’s go to the Deal Map.

Again, I’m planning a vacation for Los Angeles, so let’s do a search for Laguna Nigel, CA, which is where we’ll be staying for more than a week.

Nearby I see a ton of restaurant deals laid out on a map. I click on an icon and it shows me the deal, which even includes a free $6 burger at the nearby Burger King. Gowalla or Foursquare never did THAT for me!

Again, move around the map, click “refresh deals” and you see the deals available in that area. They are tracking hundreds of thousands of deals in real time from all over the web (they’ve built a sophisticated spidering system to make sure the deals are fresh and valid).

Now, why did I say these are more important than Foursquare or Gowalla or the other companies in this space?

Well, normal people are still resisting using these location services. But these offer REAL utility and REAL value. My wife got excited by both of these, where she isn’t excited by Foursquare or Gowalla.

Now, imagine that Foursquare hooked up with these two companies (they both have APIs)? Wouldn’t THAT be awesome?

The name of the game is utility and value and these two companies are providing both at a rate the others simply aren’t. That makes them more important.

What do you think?

UPDATE: over on Google Buzz they are talking about Goby. Kenneth Lawson writes “fell in love…this is actually useful.”

32 Replies to “Two location companies that are more important than Foursquare, MyTown, Loopt, Gowalla, or Whrrl”

  1. Goby: No BlackBerry App = FAIL! A great program doesn’t do us much good if we can’t use it.

  2. Location, location, location. All the rage right now. This is really cool watching the pace of innovation in this space.

  3. “I need more exercise, so I did another search for 'hiking, Half Moon Bay, anytime.' … Nearby I see a ton of restaurant deals laid out on a map. I click on an icon and it shows me the deal, which even includes a free $6 burger at the nearby Burger King. Gowalla or Foursquare never did THAT for me!”


  4. “Now, notice what these two actually do: the bring you REAL utility on top of location. “

    Sure, there is demand for this. But gaming is not utility, and gaming is the central focus of Gowalla and Twitter–for now. ALL platforms will have to move away from the “I'm at Subway” check-in model to scale. But they also need to remain fun to stay relevant to the millions that originally downloaded them (and still use them).

    2 things that should intersect with “social location” in the near feature:

    1) Events-as-venues. Foursquare's community vocally discourages this, and they also hate temporary venues. Get over it, I say. Events are destinations with specifically relevant information, deals and visitors. Gowalla has recently allowed events, but hasn't gone far enough.

    2) Augmented reality. Seeing who's around you, the deals around you, the tips in your area–that's a major next step. Layar already uses the Foursquare API to show check-ins around you, but it's 3rd party. Native support is next.

  5. Only had time to work with Goby a little but it showed at least one or two local trails that I haven't hiked. As I don't mind traveling from time to time, now hiking while on vacation will be a joy. Thanks again Robert.

  6. DealMap – No deals there, it's just enticement come-on offers, and omnipresent Subway $5 adverts. All the snail-mailed coupon spam only online and tons of outright scams, save on carpet cleaning and save on the moving company, deals for suckers, sure.

    1. I agree with your Christopher. I just called Credo Restaurant in San Francisco, and they said the deal was through and livingsocial, but the person I spoke with from the restaurant said the groupon had expired and livingsocial was yesterday. So TheDealMap has a problem with data freshness.

  7. I tried out the Goby site and 10 minutes later downloaded the iPad app. I've already got three ideas of what to do with my kids this weekend.

  8. how is thedealmap going to make money? through affiliate programs? given that affiliate fees are usually pretty low (ie. Amazon 5% and down). then, if they also plan to monetize the feeds through their partners, then that means that they will get only a % of the already low affiliate fee. as for their own affiliate partners, those folks aren't gonna make “squat”. if their affiliate partners get less than 50% of the fees that thedealmap gets then that means that they're getting sub 2.5% of the deal size at the high end. to make real money fm affiliate of affiliate deals your site has got to be generating huge traffic.

  9. Developers tell me over and over that Blackberry's platform sucks to develop on. Maybe you should switch phones to one that's developer friendly so you can get all the great apps that are coming on the market? Even eBay, which DOES have a Blackberry app, says that their iPhone app generates more sales and usage. If I were a developer I'd only support Apple and Google at this point.

  10. @PW – local deal affiliate programs are more attractive than you talk in your comment – DM me for more info – would love to discuss your data and the source…

  11. Hi Chandu,

    This is Mark, I am the ceo at Goby – we should catch up sometime and see if there's a way to work together, you've got some good stuff!


  12. Ian (Mark here, the Goby ceo) – we are totally with you on events-as-venues. Me being at the Dave Matthews concert (or thinking about being there) is something I want to socialize just as much (maybe more) than that restaurant I'm at. I'd love to see it personally. The challenge for the location-based games is that the UGC model for events is harder – I have less incentive to enter that info into Foursquare/Gowalla *because* the event is temporal. That's where we come in, by organizing that info.

  13. Hi Keith – yes, unfortunately we don't have a blackberry app, at least yet. It's a very expensive platform to develop for, due to the variety devices and other things. Hopefully in the future….

  14. Hi Christopher, sorry Goby didn't resonate for you. To clarify, users don't enter the “things to do” that we show, we crawl the web and organize the content we find there – we're sort of a smarter Google for things to do.

  15. Scoble says:

    “The name of the game is utility and value and these two companies are providing both at a rate the others simply aren’t. That makes them more important.”

    I respectfully disagree.

    Games are as old as the human race. Older than spoken language. Games are embedded into who we are. Function and utility live in the “responsibility” realm while games exist in the “relaxation” realm. Games and fun have far more instric value to us as people than tools and “utility” (especially when that utility is in the form of a free hamburger from Burger King, a “deal” found on TheDealMap that Scoble mentions).

  16. Totally agree that we're at the early stages of discovering the real utility of location-based services for discovering a variety of local content.

    At we see the value of location and proximity for discovering and associating a wide range of location-based content. We've created a local search app for discovering, posting and sharing community content such as: events, classifieds, rentals, services, and real estate. You can even search Yelp just as you would their mobile app. Just type in your location and 'see' what's going on around you.

    It also is a natural way to promote community content. Chances are the people attending your event, buying your stuff or renting your parking space are right in your own neighborhood – or they know somebody who will.

    It's user generated content (for now) so trying looking in the Bay Area for a better experience. It's also a great way to create a value-added map link with a robust information card to associate with your location.

    BlockWild | Where the local things are

  17. It is worth mentioning as well, started by a couple of experienced ex-Googlers and reaching out to deals in US, Canada, Australia and UK long before anyone else…now aggregating over 300 (real) deals a day from over 100 sites in 75 cities.

    They are actually focused on driving sales for their partners, not just on building a content heavy destination site. They launched an Iphone app this week and they've got a lot more cooking up. So definitely one to watch!

  18. From the Goby perspective we don't see these as mutually exclusive of course; games and utility both have their place. We see Goby as a utility that helps you have fun; games are one way to have fun, are travel, hiking, music, and so on.

    Games tend to have very high engagement but with shorter lifespans than (good) utilities. I loved the Unreal Tournament and Call of Duty games intensely, but I don't play them anymore, whereas things like Google are with me 10 years later; we're aiming more towards the latter.

  19. “we crawl the web and organize the content we find there”

    So you, steal then? Yahoo directory 1997, searching all the generic travel portals, and other-peoples-content “organized” into “content”. Wow. Brazen. Pretty slow too, average query takes eons.

    Any local site worth it's salt will toast anything gobyified. Two hiking trails in RIGHT my hometown, and the only reco I get is 25 some miles away, yet a simple Google search grabs both. I don't think this has legs.

  20. google's android browser is already starting to do stuff like this if you enable location, and if you check out the windows phone 7 demo from microsoft (devices becoming available later this year) they ship with similar functionality. Unless you can offer significantly more value (which i doubt, because google and ms bing have DEEP pockets) Goby is pretty much dead in the water.

    TheDealMap seems to have obvious quality control problems, the other players which offer a similar product to yours have higher quality results, albeit without the huge number to brag about, but quality vs quantity? i'd take quality.

  21. Goby is a very interesting service. Completely agree that for location-based services to go mainstream, they'll need to provide more everyday value than simply broadcasting your current whereabouts.

    We're taking a different angle on the problem of finding things to do. Rather than having users search for something to do near them, is a new way to find out what your friends want to do (even before they make a plan or check in). We believe that social discovery is a powerful (and untapped) way to figure out what to do around you.

  22. Hi Christopher,

    Sorry the hiking didn't work out for you. If you are so inclined, drop me a note at mark – at – with your location and we'll investigate. We're young and always looking to improve.

    Re: “steal”. We don't steal any more than Google or any other search engine does. The legal questions around fair use are quite settled (e.g.… more importantly, we attribute all the content we find, we obey the standard robots.txt protocol, and we'll happily remove content at an owner's request.

    The bigger picture though: people today are buried by an avalanche of information and search engines provide a valuable service by helping people understand and comprehend that avalanche. Whether Goby has legs – well, obviously we believe it does, but in the end the market will decide that.

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