FourSquare case study with TerraTrue

December 5, 2022

How Foursquare increases cross-functional visibility, supports innovation, and uplevels privacy across the company


Foursquare and TerraTrue

About Foursquare

Headquarters: New York
Employees: 400+ in 2022
Privacy team: 4 in 2022
Industry: Cloud-based location technology
Foursquare is the leading independent location technology company dedicated to building solutions that help businesses make smarter decisions and developers create more engaging experiences. A pioneer of the geolocation space, Foursquare’s location tech stack is being used by the world’s largest enterprises and most recognizable brands, helping them tap into location intelligence to create better customer experiences and smarter business outcomes.
Foursquare privacy and TerraTrue


The privacy culture at Foursquare has long been part of the company’s DNA – starting from its inception as a consumer app, the company has always aimed to do the right thing and leaned in on privacy to do so. In 2021, the demand for privacy guidance was high, but there were limited self-service resources and limited bandwidth for the privacy team.

Cross-functional collaboration with the privacy team had been informal, manual, and ad hoc thus far. Because the small privacy team was heavily outnumbered by the product and engineering teams, the process relied on individual stakeholders to know in advance that there could be a privacy issue, and hunt down the right privacy team members to help.

Given the company’s growth goals, the privacy team at Foursquare decided it was time to uplevel its program. They needed a better way to foster cross-functional partnerships, create trust with their product and engineering teammates, and expand visibility into product initiatives much earlier to spot privacy issues from the get-go. They knew that embedding privacy earlier in the process wasn’t going to be something they could force onto their teams. The only way to successfully do this was to use a process that built off existing processes.

Foursquare needed a solution that would:

  • Transform its ad hoc intake process to a system that offered visibility to the privacy team
  • Increase team productivity to manage more assessments while staying compliant with privacy regulations
  • Foster collaboration between privacy, product & engineering teams
Quote from Elizabeth Hein from FourSquare

A seamless fit to foster product innovation

“TerraTrue seamlessly fits into our existing product and engineering team processes, versus us having to disrupt our development workflows to make it work. We’re now in a place where everyone understands the big picture – the privacy team is not simply a passive function that waits for issues to bubble up. Rather, we proactively partner with teams and provide ideas to move innovation and our products forward, faster.”
FourSquare location privacy and Terratrue


Foursquare evaluated a number of vendors in the privacy ecosystem and selected TerraTrue to power its privacy by design program.

Transform intake process

Foursquare wanted to roll out a process that would not create additional work for their product and engineering teams. This was important to Foursquare; if a new process wasn’t connected to an existing one, it would not be adopted. That potential friction meant that people would resist it and the program would risk reverting back to leveraging manual processes. TerraTrue’s out-of-the-box Jira integration gave the privacy team their needed visibility without creating a burden to those who filed a privacy review request. It was easy for the team to tailor the tool to reflect Foursquare privacy policies and practices with just a few clicks.

Increase team productivity

With greater visibility into every new idea and feature coming down the pike, the privacy team had to conduct more privacy reviews than ever before. This meant they needed to create efficiencies in other areas to continue to operate in compliance with the law. TerraTrue made it easy for Foursquare to do more with less. They were able to get ahead of state law requirements with the dynamic Privacy Worksheet, which maps the product team’s new features to the relevant privacy laws and returns real-time guidance recommendations. ​​TerraTrue also helped future-proof Foursquare’s privacy program. As new laws came down, TerraTrue allowed Foursquare to run an immediate gap analysis, identifying which older features needed to be re-evaluated and why based on new rules. By the same token, TerraTrue eliminated the need to re-do DPIAs with each change in the law.

Foster collaboration

Because Foursquare’s innovation and product development is largely driven by product and engineering teams, the privacy team aligned their practices with the existing software development lifecycle practices. They spent a lot of time understanding their products, people, technology systems, and roadmaps. They wanted to develop trust with these teams and their ultimate goal was to keep to planned schedules, moving things forward with a safety net. By using the Jira integration to automatically create Launches in TerraTrue, the onus was no longer on the team to flag all privacy reviews. Privacy was present to catch issues and had their backs, regardless of what they were working on.

FourSquare growth and TerraTrue


Over the past six months, the privacy culture at Foursquare has matured significantly by reducing blind spots and bottlenecks, creating better visibility, increasing automation, and providing more value to the business.

Benefit 1: Increased visibility

The privacy team works hand in hand with the product and engineering team. They are considered part of the team and even operate on the same sprint schedules. Privacy is invited to critical planning meetings at the early stages of roadmapping.

Key takeaway: Privacy is aligned to the project initiatives and two-week sprints followed by the product and engineering teams.

Benefit 2: Products ship faster

When planning further down the road, product managers are used to having privacy in the room and they want them there. The new process has brought privacy to a place of trust. Everyone now knows that privacy is working with them to ensure their products go to market on time.

Key takeaway: Privacy brings value to their roadmap commitments for both product and customers.

Benefit 3: Greater understanding of privacy

Since implementing TerraTrue, there is now a solution that breaks down barriers of communication. Everyone is reading from the same sheet of music and people are starting to apply a heightened level of awareness to their day-to-day functions, understanding the laws the same way privacy does.

Key takeaway: Cross-functional collaboration creates a clearer understanding of privacy laws and coordinates efforts
Employees at FourSquare planning privacy with the help of TerraTrue

Moving forward

The team at Foursquare is continuously looking for ways to refine and optimize their privacy program, spot trends, and support the business with actionable insights. After one year of implementing TerraTrue, they have collected several data points and metrics that they plan to use to bring more maturity and accountability into their privacy program.

Going forward, they plan to conduct retros to analyze how their new process has impacted each of their product lines and identify areas for improvement and better resource allocation.