Mayor Michael Bloomberg on Thursday created the city’s first social media holiday, declaring Saturday, April 16, to be “Foursquare Day” in honor of one of the city’s most successful startups.
Mr. Bloomberg visited Foursquare’s office to announce the holiday, which will be celebrated with parties, business discounts and charity events. More than a dozen cities in the U.S. have officially proclaimed Foursquare Day for April 16—the fourth sixteenth of the year (the mathematically inclined get it: four, squared). Other participating cities include Miami, Atlanta and Austin, Texas.
Foursquare lets mobile phone users “check in” at their current location. A certain number of check-ins can make someone a virtual mayor, and different types of check-ins earn users virtual badges. Checking in also provides Foursquare users with tips and business discounts associated with their location. In return for the free advertising, businesses give discounts to users who recommend them. The social media service currently has 8 million users, more than $20 million in venture capital funding and more than 60 employees (up from five in January 2010). Co-founder Dennis Crowley was named a 40 Under 40 by Crain’s this year.
A spokesman for the mayor’s office said honoring companies like Foursquare showcases the city’s focus on promoting its cutting-edge home-grown tech industry.
“New York City has a lot of competitive advantages, most importantly a diverse and skilled workforce,” he said.
The city will also honor Foursquare at the sixth annual Made in New York Awards on June 6. It will be the first time a social media company is honored, said the spokesman.
Mr. Crowley said via email that he was “blown away” by the level of enthusiasm.
“The city has been extremely supportive of what we’re doing, and it’s amazing to get this level of recognition from Mayor Bloomberg,” he said. “Both me and [co-founder Naveen Selvadurai] are long-term New Yorkers, and we have always felt like this is the best place to build a startup.”
Foursquare Day started small last year, when a user in Tampa, Fla. invented it as a way to generate foot traffic to his own company. Meetups quickly multiplied, as did the level of organizer creativity.
This year, Mr. Crowley said, users from “over 500 communities” around the world are sponsoring anything from “scavenger hunts to food drives to actual games of [the schoolyard game] foursquare.”
Big Apple Foursquare users have planned several meetups on Saturday; listings are available on Foursquare. With more time to prepare this year, many businesses have been stepping up to sponsor special events.
One meetup on Saturday will take place at the SideBar. Participants can go online to score a free ride in a double-decker bus from Times Square to the venue, complete with a tour guide and free swag from Pretzel Crisps.
Another meetup will be held at the boutique Roger Smith hotel; festivities include a competitive bacon-eating contest sponsored by the League of Amateur Competitive Eaters.
The marketing potential of Foursquare Day is not lost on businesses, said Walter Elly, emerging technology director at Portsmouth, N.H.-based creative branding company MicroArts.
“All sorts of fun things start to happen when everyone in a town is using Foursquare at the same time,” he said. Last year, more than 30 businesses sponsored events for Portsmouth’s Foursquare Day.