Foursquare has an open position for a data scientist. Specifically, the company is looking for someone with "experience with prediction or recommender systems, search and ranking algorithms, and classification algorithms." In September, Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley told the audience at Picnic that the company is building a recommendation engine. About Foursquare thinks this may hint at things to come from Foursquare.
Data scientists are statisticians and/or computer scientists who specialize in working with large datasets. As explained here, the job of the data scientist is to obtain, scrub, explore, model and interpret data.
It's likely that Foursquare is looking for someone to turn its massive datasets culled from all those check-ins into something useful and, of course, monetizable.
Alistair Goodman wrote at Business Insider that he expects Facebook Places to win the check-in wars, but:
Mark Andreesen, an investor in Foursquare and board member of Facebook, will most likely still lead Foursquare into new areas that won't be touched by Facebook with the hopes of helping it pivot beyond the check-in. Gowalla won't be so lucky.
Getting into big data in a big way would be one way for Foursquare to build value and keep from becoming just another check-in service. As we've noted before, it won't have a whole lot of competition in the food recommendation space.
Marshall noted that, in addition to a recommendation engine, Foursquare has talked about incentivizing behavior:
In addition to recommendations, the company has long talked about incentivization of real-world behavior. Today, for example, Foursquare announced a partnership with CNN, which will give a "healthy eater" badge to anyone who checks-in at one of ten thousand farmers markets. It's unclear whether a dorky apple badge with CNN emblazoned on it is going to incentivize anyone to do anything - but it's a start and an interesting idea.
Imagine checking in at a farmer's market, then later receiving recommendations to restaurants that cook with locally-sourced food when you check-in nearby. It's got to be just a matter of time before big companies like McDonald's start incentivizing fun and Happy Meals lest we all get too many farmers market recommendations.
We've asked before what value there may be in the massive datasets generated by geotracking. If anyone can think of some novel uses for this data, please let us know in the comments (or found a start-up).
Interested in applying for the job? Here's are Foursquare's requirements:
- MS or PhD in CS/Machine Learning or Statistics or a BS with extensive experience in the field
- 5+ years experience as a data scientist/analyst on large datasets, or research in this area
- Ability to work with big datasets with minimal engineering support
- Comfortable in a small, intense and high-growth start-up environment