Foursquare Global Hackathon Produces Location-Based Mashups With Spotify, Runkeeper, the U.S. Census and More

Foursquare's second hackathon.

Foursquare hosted its second hackathon over the weekend at General Assembly, a surprisingly gender-balanced affair at General Assembly fueled by Pepsi products and beer from Sixpoint Craft Ales. Developers in Paris demonstrated more than 20 new foursquare apps; hackers in Japan demo’ed eight or nine. The New York hackathon produced about 25 apps, hacks and mashups.

Let’s just say there are a lot of new ways to play foursquare. Hackathon savant and newly-anointed Twilio evangelist Jon Gottfried and his team created Loo Review, a game for photographing and rating the city’s public toilets. Betabeat also liked CRawsome, a hack from Yipit’s Vinny Vacanti and Steve Pulec that texts venue managers when regulars and “social influencers” check in.

Perhaps 200 attendees were strewn across the floor, couches, and extra tables that had been set up in the main room, but only 50 were checked into General Assembly when Betabeat arrived in the afternoon for demos–probably because hackers had been checking in all day (about eight had stayed overnight to work on their projects). Just ten percent were present at the first foursquare hackathon in February, according to a show of hands.

As we checked in, foursquare asked if we were there for the hackathon. Checking into the event was necessary in order to view the list of presentations and vote. Voting for the global champion will take place over the rest of this week.

The grand prize is the foursquare title belt and dinner with foursquare co-founder Naveen Selvadurai and investor Bryce Roberts.

“Where are you going to take the winner for dinner?” someone in the audience asked.

“I’ve been thinking about that,” said Mr. Selvadurai, a notorious East Village foodie. “I’ve been writing in my diary. If you have a place you want to go, I’ll take you there. But make sure you get dressed up real nice.”


The winners of the popular vote in New York? Veteran fourquare hacker Jonathan Wegener and Jason Pope took third place for FacePlace, an app that changes your foursquare profile picture based on the type of venue you’ve checked in to. Second place went to DigiDJ, a mobile jukebox created by Christine Horvat and Brian Yang, assisted by Venmo employees. DigiDJ, which also won for best use of the Spotify API, lets patrons pay $.99 to add a song to the playlist and $5 to have it play next.

First place went to Yipit employee Tal Safran and former foursquare employee Max Stoller for their Census data hack, “How ____ are you?” Authenticate the app with foursquare and it’ll tell you how black, white, Asian, male, female, married, divorced or single you are based on the zip codes you check into.

Hackers also built two scavenger hunts, a Dealburner-esque app that shows when Yipit has tagged a deal at the venue you’ve checked into, and an app that shows you the most recent New York Times articles that mention the venue you’ve checked into.

Other hacks of note:

Bimbimbob: a platform for motivation, the app lets you set a goal-say, get in shape–and have friends pledge money via Venmo. But the pledge doesn’t charge until you’ve checked into the gym 15 times, for example.

Homefield Advantage: looks at check-ins at baseball stadiums and tallies up where fans are from.

PickSq: allows users to vote on a venue. For example, where to go for the hackathon afterparty.

Hoppin or not: Christina Cacioppo of Union Square Ventures presented her first hack, which displays happy or sad bunnies depending on how many people are checked into the venues that surface after a keyword search

Fourguide: Created by Will Vanderhoef, Josh Ross, Jackie Li, Shaun Bava. “Create a Foursquare list of places along your Runkeeper activity routes; then use your Android device to automatically check in to places on your lists.”

There can be only one winner.
“We hope some of these apps are actually going to go and become products in their own right,” Mr. Selvadurai told attendees. That happened with one of the hacks in February, which he hinted would be announced in the next few months. Foursquare also hired two hackers out of the first hackathon, he reminded the audience. “We’re here to support you guys whatever you want in terms of data, support, anything you want. And we really care about you guys because you care about us. Let’s keep the conversation going.”
Mr. Selvadurai, co-founder Dennis Crowley and developer liaison Ashkay Patil closed out the hackathon by encouraging everyone to drink Sixpoint beer. “Take two!” Mr. Selvadurai said. There wasn’t enough beer at the last hackathon, apparently, and the organizers had overcompensated this time.
Foursquare Global Hackathon Produces Location-Based Mashups With Spotify, Runkeeper, the U.S. Census and More