Can Foursquare become profitable in two years?

The way Foursquare describes itself has changed dramatically over the years. Once a buzzworthy darling of social networking, the startup now identifies as a “location intelligence company.” And for good reason: That’s apparently where the money is. 

Foursquare cofounder Dennis Crowley and recently appointed CEO Jeff Glueck took the stage at Techcrunch NY earlier today to push their reframed message: Sure, its consumer apps took a nosedive after their controversial split into two–Swarm for location check-ins and Foursquare for local recommendations, but their usage is on the rebound and, more importantly, the company is plotting a whole new path toward profitability. 

“We want to be a big-data, really powerful way of looking at the real world economy,” Glueck said in a recent interview with Fast Company. “We think there’s a ton of problems that can be solved this way, and we’re focused on that.”

What sort of problems? Foursquare is starting with advertising and media, using its massive trove of location data to help advertisers target ads more intelligently (using a service called Pinpoint) and understand the effectiveness of offline advertising on real-world foot traffic (with a newer product called Attribution). 

From the sound of it, these new B2B businesses—along with Foursquare’s API and third party developer integrations—are just the beginning.  The goal, Glueck tells us, is to become profitable over the next two years or so. And apparently this is how: Not by becoming the next Twitter as many once thought, but by partnering with others to turn mountains of data into cash. JPT