Travel blogger Gary Arndt is a Gowalla user who migrated his data to TouristEye.
When Gowalla officially announced earlier this month that Facebook was acquiring the check-in service and shutting it down, most people focused on whether Gowalla and Facebook had screwed Gowalla's investors.
But what about Gowalla's 2M or so users? TouristEye, a check-in and discovery app for travelers founded in Madrid in early 2010, clearly saw an opportunity to bring them to its service.
We first learned of TouristEye's migration campaign when we received the following email from a Gowalla contact:
TouristEye co-founder Javier Fernández Escribano told LAUNCH via email that many TouristEye users had asked for integration with Gowalla and Foursquare.
"When the rumors started about Gowalla closing, we thought it was the perfect time to do it and many users ping us to do it. So we did," he says, but notes, "We really love Gowalla and it's a pity it's closing."
He confirmed that this was the second time TouristEye had targeted users of shuttering service; the first was Nextstop in 2010.
Once a Gowalla user gives TouristEye permission to access their account and TouristEye confirms it, that person can opt to tell their contacts about the process, explains Javier. No matter how many friends from Gowalla are migrating, an individual will only receive one TouristEye pitch to migrate as well. The invites go out after TouristEye has processed all of the Gowalla user's data [ start the transfer process here ].
LAUNCH has asked Gowalla co-founder Josh Williams about TouristEye's strategy; we will update if we receive a response.
Javier built the migration tool using Gowalla's API, a process he details in this Hacker News post. Essentially, he had to avoid duplicates, filter out places that are outside a person's usual neighborhoods (TouristEye doesn't care about check-ins to your local grocery store or dry cleaner) and create trips (your five check-ins in Paris last summer means you were a tourist there).
TouristEye, which has iOS and Android apps, has 65K registered travelers, up from 15K this summer. Of that group, 60% are in Spain, 20% are in the U.S. and 10% are in the U.K. "Most of our users travel once each 3-4 months with us," Javier says, and the service has amassed 400K "rates" to date.
More of TouristEye's app users come from Android than iPhone. "We are planning on launching a v2 really soon really focused on usability and a new design, one that Android really deserves," says Javier. He also points out that their app has better reviews in Europe than in the U.S. because the initial version of their U.S. app was "bad."
Integrating TouristEye with Foursquare is in the works right now and will be out in the "next weeks/month." As Javier sees it, you will be able to "use Foursquare on your city and TouristEye while traveling; both apps learning and improving the user experience."
TouristEye has raised $180K from angels in Spain. "We are talking to investors for a first round, both in USA and Europe," Javier says. TouristEye's development team will remain in Spain; the yet-to-be-established San Francisco office will handle biz dev. The company currently has six employees (including the two founders).
Javier won't talk about TouristEye's business model, saying only, "You will see in Q1."
Javier Fernández Escribano
6:01 AM PST Wed, Dec 21, 2011