Dennis Crowley, co-founder, foursquare - rising stars in wireless

Dennis Crowley, co-founder, foursquare - rising stars in wirelessWhether you love it or you hate it, foursquare has quickly become a leader in location-based mobile social networking. The application, which lets users broadcast their whereabouts to their friends, is offered on several platforms including Google's (NASDAQ:GOOG) Android, Apple's (NASDAQ:AAPL) iPhone iOS, Research In Motion's (NASDAQ:RIMM)  BlackBerry, Hewlett-Packard's webOS and Microsoft's (NASDAQ:MSFT) Windows Phone.

Foursquare has managed to rack up more than 6 million registered users who check in at local venues via their mobile device, earning points and virtual badges for visiting establishments on a regular basis. The company reported that its total check-ins surpassed 381 million in 2010.

But Foursquare isn't just attracting users, it also has lured venture capitalists. In June, the company raised $20 million from investors led by Andreessen Horowitz. Today the company is estimated to be worth $250 million.

As the brains behind the company, co-founder Dennis Crowley is considered an entrepreneur with a penchant for starting successful new companies. His first startup, Dodgeball, was acquired by Google in 2005.

In 2010 Crowley was named one of Fortune's "40 under 40." He was also named one of the "Top 35 Innovators Under 35" by MIT's Technology Review magazine in 2005.  

There are challenges, of course. Facebook recently introduced its own mobile check-in system. And just this week Google did too, via its Android-powered Maps and Latitude service.

Foursquare has certainly come a long way in a short time. Crowley's challenge in the year ahead is to turn the company's growing user base into a viable business model while concurrently fighting off challengers, big and small. Crowley said that the company is planning to create and sell tools to local merchants. Exactly how that transition occurs will be interesting to watch.

Dennis Crowley, co-founder, foursquare - rising stars in wireless