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A Future IPO as Exciting as Twitter

I know. It's a time waster, but it's fun. I have a competition with one of my Foursquare friends to see who can rack up the most check-in points. We needle one another all of the time. For instance, he made his home -- "The Residence" -- a place that he checks into, sometimes multiple times a day. I'm writing up a grievance to protest this practice with the Foursquare Board of Directors or competition committee, assuming the company has one. (If it doesn't, it should!).

In the process of merely "checking in," Foursquare continues to up the ante with a mix of fun and useful features.

Fun

Foursquare knows I'm a Taylor Swift fan?

Fun And Useful

More Fun

Every time I turn around Foursquare throws something else at me that's engaging and/or relevant to my experience in the moment.

Because they're not as fun, I tend not to screenshot the more useful Foursquare moments as they happen. But, the more I see them, and put them to use, the less I use Yelp.

Yelp, slowly but surely, feels like it's becoming a place to bitch about an experience you didn't like or troll for a social media following by being snarky, funny or otherwise clever and creative. I don't want to experience anything close to an Internet comments forum or message board when I'm looking for a place to eat.

Talk about narcissistic and ... !

At least in Manhattan and Southern California, the two places where I most frequently use each app, Foursquare's ability to offer relevant suggestions of places to go -- that are actually within a reasonable distance of my current location -- continues to improve as Yelp's gets worse. I can't tell you how many times, even when filtering a search, Yelp does me wrong. Foursquare knows what's nearby, based largely on the behavior of its users, and doesn't send me on a wild goose chase for food, drink or some other indulgence.

Yelp should have taken Google's (GOOG) offer when it had the chance. If you've made money on the stock's epic run, say thank you and get the hell out. Consider the degradation of Yelp's user experience a sign of things to come.

Foursquare, OTOH, sits in prime pouncing position.

Larger companies have taken note of the progress founder and CEO Dennis Crowley and his team have made. There has been talk of interest from Microsoft (MSFT) and American Express (AMX). Foursquare continues to collect treasure troves of data and, methodically, expand its functionality for advertisers. It recently opened up a self-serve platform.

While Dick Costolo talked about operating on his own timeline with respect to if and when Twitter would IPO (that sounds so funny now!), Crowley actually appears to be walking the walk. He's taking his time and building a company that will likely be better-prepared than both Facebook and Twitter if it ever gets to the stage of going public. Chances are somebody takes Foursquare out before then. Here's hoping whoever makes the move and wins the prize doesn't kill the fun and/or ruin a startup that actually appears to be growing in the most orderly and strategic fashion possible.

--Written by Rocco Pendola in Santa Monica, Calif.

Rocco Pendola is a columnist and TheStreet's Director of Social Media. Pendola makes frequent appearances on national television networks such as CNN and CNBC as well as TheStreet TV. Whenever possible, Pendola uses hockey, Springsteen or Southern California references in his work. He lives in Santa Monica.
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