Gowalla vs. FourSquare: Who Will Win?


gowalla imageFourSquare, the location-based mobile application game that launched back in March, has been getting a lot of attention here in the U.S., but in the meantime, an offering made available in the iPhone (s appl) App Store that same month has been gaining users internationally: Gowalla. Created by the Austin, Texas-based startup AlamoFire, the app is similar to FourSquare in that you can check in and notify friends when you get to a certain location, such as a restaurant or a bar, to earn “pins,” much like the set of badges you try to earn on FourSquare. But Gowalla’s location-based information is crowdsourced, which has allowed the app to quickly gain traction in places around the world.

So while FourSquare rolled out its app in London last week and is poised to expand to Paris next, Gowalla has had a 7-month head start in those cities and countless others. CEO Josh Williams wouldn’t specify how many users Gowalla has, but said they collectively create more than 1,000 new locations a day.

Of course, FourSquare has a leg up in that it’s also available on Android-based (s goog) phones. But that advantage is set to disappear as Gowalla’s Williams tells us that the startup plans to expand to Android and BlackBerry (s rimm) devices, as well as the Palm (s palm) Pre, within the next few weeks.

AlamoFire received $2 million in funding from Founder’s Fund and Alsop Louie Partners in February 2008.



“Gowalla’s Williams tells us that the startup plans to expand to Android and BlackBerry devices, as well as the Palm Pre, within the next few weeks.”

I call bs on this statement.

Anyone seen any updates from yelp incorporating this into their service?


Living in Europe, I tried both Gowalla and Foursquare. And I see way more interesting places on Foursquare than Gowalla.
While I agree with some of the critics on the limitations on street addresses in Foursquare, I was not too fond of the UI in Gowalla. I prefer having a simple, easy to use, and fast loading app. Foursquare is just that.

Walt Ribeiro

I like these location based services, and I do think they will easily monetize because of venues offering deals, wanting to be featured, etc.

It should be interesting to see what the scene looks like in 6-12 months!


I’ve been playing with social geolocation apps for a while. BrightKite, Plazes, Loopt, Foursquare, Gowalla… and I’ve just reviewed several of them on my blog this week. And as far as the services that add a “game” element to getting around, I definitely think the leadership position is Foursquare’s to lose. It’s got great buzz.

Yet, Gowalla feels more solid, looks gorgeous, and is simply more functional. Foursquare’s website seems like an afterthought, and the reliance on street addresses is a serious weakness in a GPS-powered world. Gowalla allows me to share locations off the beaten path, even if there’s no street to speak of (i.e. a point on a trail, a specific corner of a large park). And while the crowning of “mayors” in Foursquare seems like a strong motivator, it’s also generated some pretty angry arguments that seem the antithesis of a social network.

Andrew Paterson

Ryan, great point of view !

I too have tried “everything” and it seems like they’re all “tweaking” to find the right spot and that’s precisely the point; users don’t know exactly what they want – instead they “follow” others.

Like the fax, these tools get more and more useful as more people get & use them !


I think that Foursquare has a larger word-of-mouth reach right now. I feel as if I hear (or have heard) a lot more about Foursquare than I have Gowalla, so it stands to reason that Foursquare has more users. But I’m not privy to any hard numbers, so it could just be my location or circle of friends and acquaintances.

Be that as it may, who do I think will win this little GPS-based social media battle? Initially I think it’s going to be the software that launches a stable platform on Blackberry devices. We all know that if one or the other launches a platform for the BB that is deemed user-UNfriendly, shaky or unstable…it will be all over the social media realm within days forcing early adopters to jump ship and making later adopters jump on board with the early adopters because, well…that’s where all the people are.

Just my thoughts though…will be interested to see where this goes and excited to try both on my BB, so can we please get a move on?! :)


I am sorry, can someone please tell me why this is remotely interesting as a business. If I thought gaming was interesting as a business, i would just buy hasbro’s stock: they know how to monetize it better than these guys.

I hate being in the “i don’t get it category” because I feel like I am missing something, but ultimately, how much crap should we be expected to buy into before we ask the questions: can this be monetized and how sustainable is it?

not usually skeptical, but this really punishes my intelligence.

Sanjay Sabnani

I wish Yelp would just add this functionality and we could be done with this weird competition for sloppy, user generated location based nonsense. Is there any question that Yelp would win this war if it entered?


I would like to invest in Gowalla. I think this space could be large. If interested please let me know how to contact you.


use the service and collect the most pins. then they will call you dude

Robert Scoble

I’m using both and Foursquare has a lot more users, has better info for the places I go (admittedly mostly in SF or surrounding areas, which is one of the cities that it has in it) and is more fun to play.

Gowalla has more cities, forces you to use GPS (made it tough to check in in a few places where GPS wasn’t available) and I don’t like the UI as much (although I admit there are probably some who like it better).

Who will win long term? I think Foursquare will. Why? The gameplay and conversationality of the game are superior. I see people on Twitter talking about Foursquare all the time. “Just became ‘mayor’ of xxxxxx.” I rarely see people talk about Gowalla. The virality just isn’t there.

Tomorrow on the Gillmor Gang we’ll have one of the founders of Foursquare. Listen in at http://www.building43.com at 1 p.m. Pacific Time.

Jennifer Martinez

Thanks, Robert! You have some good points, but how do you know that there’s more users on FourSquare? I tried to find user numbers but came up empty handed. If you have any stats, definitely let me know.


what will they win? what prize is waiting them at the end of this nerd rainbow?

Michael Koby

I actually wrote my thoughts on this a few weeks ago.


I personally prefer Gowalla to FourSquare because of the fact I don’t need to know the address of the place I’m at to add it, it’s all based on GPS coordinates. I think FourSquare’s point’s system and their “game” is a little better, but I enjoy using Gowalla so much more in generall that I’m okay with not using FourSquare.

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