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Foursquare’s CEO says Yelp is shaking down local businesses

Jeff Glueck compares Foursquare to Robin Hood ... so does that make Yelp the Sheriff of Nottingham?

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Foursquare started out as a consumer app, and it’s still thinking about the next phase of personal computing. But under new CEO Jeff Glueck, the company is now making most of its money from other big businesses, not everyday people.

Put simply, the company takes the data from its consumer apps — Swarm and Foursquare, which let users check in at and review local businesses — and sells all that data to advertisers and enterprise customers. Glueck threw shade at competitor Yelp, implying its listings are biased.

“It’s almost a Robin Hood thing,” Glueck said on the latest episode of Recode Decode, hosted by Kara Swisher. “Unlike Yelp — they have several thousand people who dial the pizzeria and the bar to try and get them to pay each month. Our ratings are really neutral. We recommend the great banh mi sandwich shop or the great ramen place, we’re not biased in any way.”

(Worth noting: Foursquare does sell ads that cause paying businesses to show up first in search results.)

And a quick refresher on English folklore: Robin Hood stole from the rich and gave to the poor. Here’s why it’s “almost” a Robin Hood story:

“At the aggregate, that data is powering Apple Maps or Uber pickups or better widgets in Samsung phones around the world, or Microsoft is using it to make Cortana smarter,” Glueck said. “We’re helping the little guys, but we’re charging the big Fortune 500 companies.”

For the other side of the coin, check out our podcast with Yelp CEO Jeremy Stoppelman from last year:

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