Jeff Glueck, Foursquare
Glueck has been CEO of Foursquare since 2016, developing it into a leading
location technology platform used by brands such as Uber, Snapchat, Samsung and
Twitter. At The Phocuswright Conference, he will take part in an executive
roundtable on the benefits and risks of using technology to match travelers
with relevant offers
In a series of interviews with executives participating at the event in Florida in November, PhocusWire finds out what makes them tick...
What book do you recommend to others and why?
Good to Great by Jim Collins. Collins explores companies that started out as good companies but then became extraordinarily successful over long periods. Collins analyzed hundreds of companies, isolated those that went from average to sustainable greatness and then did in-depth interviews to find out what made them tick.
There are so many valuable insights about how to build a company to last that I find myself thinking about the lessons frequently.
What do you do to alleviate stress?
I like to use a combination of exercise and meditation to alleviate stress. I ride my Peloton bike on mornings when time allows or run with our dog in the woods trails near our house, and I like to use the Headspace meditation app to chill out before
Tell us about your favorite vacation.
This past spring, my wife and I took our three kids to Europe (London, Oxford and Paris). I’ve been to these cities many times, so it was amazing to see the U.K. and France through my children's eyes and share some of my favorite places with them.
We went to the Cotswolds where I proposed to my wife, met some of my professors from Oxford, ate a warm baguette from one of my favorite bakeries while sitting on the banks of the Seine near Notre Dame… the list goes on and on. I think I’ll remember this
trip with them for a long time.
Why isn't the travel startup survival rate higher than it is?
Having spent almost a decade in the travel industry and co-founded a travel business (site59), I’ve come to realize that everyone has a secret desire to start a travel company. They all say the same thing, which is that they love to travel, and they think
working in travel will be glamorous.
People would say to me when I was CMO of Travelocity that “you must be traveling all the time and have such perks,” but the truth was, most of my time was spent in front of spreadsheets and analytics dashboards or in meetings and email like everyone else.
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Working in the travel space is not dissimilar from working in any other industry. It’s a lot of work, and you need scale. If you don’t have something really differentiated, with barriers to entry and bargaining power with vendors and customers,
it’s nearly impossible to make the economics work.
What are you like outside of work?
On weekends I spend all the time I can with my three kids. We spend the days bouncing on the trampoline, taking our Tibetan terrier on walks, building Legos, playing chess and Catan, reading, strolling the farmer's market, just spending good quality time
together, which can sometimes be hard to do during the week.
I also have a lot of political interests outside of work. I was a White House fellow under the Clinton Administration working on climate change and clean energy. I’m the vice chairman of Friends of the Earth and a board member at Arena, which recruits
diverse next generation leaders to run for office, among other political projects.
Who is the person you most admire within the industry?
Well he's not in travel today but I really admire Rich Barton. I competed with him at Travelocity when he built Expedia, and I always admired the way he rolled up the industry and built a juggernaut, which he’s doing again in real estate.
More recently Sam Shank for building HotelTonight, which inherited the mantle of last-second deals we built at site59.
How do you want to be remembered as a leader in your company?
It was important that we took Dennis Crowley’s inspiring vision for Foursquare, connecting the digital and physical worlds, and made it into a sustainable and relevant business, reinvented as a B2B powerhouse around mapping technology and consumer insights.
I wanted to ensure that Foursquare was relevant for the next decade, and we are so well positioned now to help invent the future of contextual technology.
What’s your must-have app?
Aside from Foursquare City Guide and Swarm, I use Uber, AccuWeather and Slack almost daily, and I love using TripAdvisor when I’m traveling. It doesn’t hurt that our tech helps power three of those four apps!
What is your proudest professional achievement?
Aside from what we’re doing at Foursquare today, I was proud of building and growing Travelocity from a $3 billion company to an $11 billion company, launching the Travelocity Guarantee and the Roaming Gnome. We really tried to elevate the industry from
price commoditization to service and trust for consumers, and I’m incredibly proud of that.
What’s the most interesting thing about you that we wouldn’t learn from your resume alone?
I was the Orange County, California, cake decorating champion as a kid. I had two major league pitching tryouts. And I’m possibly the only American Jew to give a speech on economic cooperation and the peace process in the Gaza Strip Chamber of Commerce
(back in 1997 when there was a peace process).