TechCrunch founder Michael Arrington makes his interviewees more than a little uncomfortable, but he doesn’t seem to care in the slightest. On stage at the TechCrunch Disrupt conference in New York, Arrington prodded Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley to spill the beans on a myriad of forbidden topics, including valuation, fundraising, a potential acquisition, and partnerships. Crowley didn’t budge on anything but an agreed-upon announcement that Foursquare had signed a deal to become the default location app in INQ phones. The devices, which operate on the Android platform, are available in the UK.
Crowley dodged a needling set of questions on a much more significant deal: This morning, All Things D reported that Foursquare is in discussions to create a partnership with Groupon. The deal would allow Groupon to use the location-targeting capabilities of Foursquare to spread the word on its daily deals, according to the report. Groupon has already inked a similar deal with Loopt, another mobile check-in app. Crowley declined to confirm the news, offering, "It goes without saying we talk to lots of people in that space."
He did, however, comment on his status as a Silicon Alley idol. Arrington not-so-subtly mocked Crowley and co-founder Naveen Selvadurai’s recent appearance in a Gap advertisement for charity, noting that Crowley has “become a bit of a rock star, a poster boy for entrepreneurs." Similar to the experience of Digg founder Kevin Rose (one-time leader of the Silicon Valley brat pack and apparent runner-up in ValleyWag’s Hottest Guy in the Valley contest), could Crowley's status as the New King of Social Media (Wired's words) ultimately hurt him by inflating expectations?
Unclear for now—Crowley brushed the question off—though Arrington isn't the first to question Foursquare's monetization plan. Crowley noted that, thus far, the revenues Foursquare has generated have come from areas outside its its ultimate plans to make money. In other words, whatever the plan may be, it’s not in yet place.