Meet the New Twitter

Foursquare is big in Jersey. Or at least it will be, if DJ Pauly D has any say.

This week, the co-star of MTV's Jersey Shore reality series became one of the first to try Foursquare's "Celebrity Mode," where big-name users of the social network can either choose to send updates to all their followers, or just a smaller circle of friends.

More broadly, Viacom (NYSE: VIA  ) plans for several MTV and VH1 shows to hook into Foursquare, which is a social network like Twitter and Facebook but designed to share location rather than status. Users "check in" where they are, revealing their coordinates to all the friends in their network. Celebrity Mode adds a layer to that basic structure.

"There's a desire to be involved and get a good buzz, because there are lots of people involved," said Foursquare co-founder Dennis Crowley in an interview. "But it's difficult to get, say, an Ashton Kutcher on without having him broadcast his location. Every time he goes into a bagel shop is going to result in a paparazzi nightmare."

Crowley's right. Cyberstalking is an often-voiced concern for those who refuse to try Foursquare or peers such as Loopt and Gowalla. Celebrity Mode, if extended to regular users like yours truly, would alleviate some of those concerns.

For now, Foursquare is private. Crowley says the company has raised $1.35 million in venture capital and has plenty of money left in the bank. Meanwhile, TechCrunch reports that Accel Partners, Andreesen Horowitz, Khosla Ventures, and Redpoint Ventures are battling to lead the company's next round of funding, which could reach $10 million.

There are three reasons for tech investors to pay attention to Foursquare. First, there's the quality of VCs backing the company. Accel helped fund AdMob and Facebook. Andreesen Horowitz partner Marc Andreesen helped create Netscape and is backing a browser technology that threatens Microsoft's (Nasdaq: MSFT  ) Internet Explorer. Khosla Ventures founder Vinod Khosla co-founded Sun Microsystems. Redpoint has backed Fortinet (Nasdaq: FTNT  ) , MySpace, and TiVo (Nasdaq: TIVO  ) , among others.

Second, both Google (Nasdaq: GOOG  ) , with AdMob, and Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL  ) , with Quattro Wireless, have bet on mobile advertising, much of which is likely to be location-based. Foursquare, with its database of "check-ins" and user tips, could be a powerful source of information for those placing on-the-go pitches.

Finally, there are the celebrities. Foursquare doesn't match Twitter yet -- with a reported 600,000 users, it's tiny by comparison -- but like its sibling social network, Foursquare is attracting enough of the A- and B-lists to merit red carpet consideration.

Call it an uprising that has a chance to become a full-scale rebellion, the kind that unlocks billions in value.

What does Foursquare need to do in order to become the next Twitter? Discuss in the comments box below.

Apple is a Motley Fool Stock Advisor selection. Google is a Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation. Microsoft is a Motley Fool Inside Value pick. Motley Fool Options has recommended a diagonal call on Microsoft. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days.

Fool contributor Tim Beyers is a member of the Rule Breakers stock-picking team. He had stock and options positions in Apple and a stock position in Google at the time of publication. Check out Tim's portfolio holdings and Foolish writings, or connect with him on Twitter as @milehighfool. The Motley Fool is also on Twitter as @TheMotleyFool. The Fool's disclosure policy has a new tux for its red carpet debut.


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