Software giant Microsoft Corp. (MSFT: Quote) is in talks about making a strategic investment in social network Foursquare Labs Inc., Bloomberg reported Thursday, citing people with knowledge of the discussions. The report also indicated that American Express Co. (AXP: Quote) is competing to take an equity stake in Foursquare.
New York-based Foursquare is a location-based social networking website for mobile devices, including smartphones. Users "check in" at venues using a mobile website, text messaging or a device-specific application by selecting from a list of nearby venues that the application will locate, and can share relevant tips. The service was launched in 2009 by Dennis Crowley and Naveen Selvadurai.
Foursquare currently has iOS, Symbian, Series 40, MeeGo, Android, WebOS, Windows Phone, Bada and BlackBerry, and recently, PlayStation Vita applications. The company has recorded more than 4 billion check-ins.
Bloomberg reported that Foursquare is also in talks with venture capitalists who own convertible debt about turning their holdings into equity. Foursquare is funded by Union Square Ventures, O'Reilly AlphaTech Ventures, Andreessen Horowitz, Spark Capital and a group of angel investors.
These talks are seen as an indication that potential investors are more optimistic about Foursquare's prospects after the company started to reap the benefits of a new advertising approach that enables brands to target users when they have checked into a locale. In April 2013, Foursquare raised $41 million in debt.
According to the Bloomberg report, a stake in Foursquare would give Microsoft, the world's largest software maker, a bigger role in social media and mobile, areas where it has lagged behind rivals such as Apple Inc. (AAPL).
Foursquare has reportedly helped Microsoft by making an application for its Windows 8 operating system, which has had trouble attracting developers because of the popularity of Google's Android and Apple's iOS software for smartphones and tablets.
On Thursday, Foursquare announced a limited Android release of a new version of its application that uses passive location to deliver proactive recommendations. The updated application uses a user's phone location to give nearby recommendations. The service will later be expanded to all Android users and iOS users.
MSFT closed Thursday's trading at $33.55, up $0.53 or 1.61 percent on a volume of 45.28 million shares.
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by RTT Staff Writer
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