Foursquare Co-founder Dennis Crowley: ‘We’re Like Eight Years Into This Experiment’

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Techies have been calling location-based mobile application Foursquare the next big thing since last year’s South By Southwest Conference.

While the service counted only about 50,000 users last year, this year the Foursquare’s user base has shot up to about 540,000, said co-founder Dennis Crowley today.

“We’re like eight years into this experiment,” he said, referring in part to dodgeball.com, the mobile service he created that was acquired by Google in 2005, and has since been shut down.

Foursquare just today announced its first retail partnership with Starbucks. The service is battling it out here at SXSW with local competitor Gowalla, as well as other similar services such as Loopt.

Clearly, Foursquare and these competing services are already having an impact on businesses. “Every check in that someone sends is a recommendation about that place,” said Crowley.

Of course, everyone is also anticipating Facebook’s upcoming F8 conference in April, where it is likely to announce its own location-based features.