Foursquare's Dennis Crowley on the 'Godmother of Silicon Alley'

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Foursquare co-founder and CEO Dennis Crowley was a student of Red Burns, the so-called "godmother of Silicon Alley," who passed away at the end of August at the age of 88.  

Crowley studied under Burns at the Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP) at New York University's Tisch School of the Arts, a program she created in the 1970s.

"She was a huge personality. Brash and in your face and direct," Crowley said.  

While he was a student of Burns, Crowley developed Dodgeball, a location-based social network that he later sold to Google. It's a kind of precursor to Foursquare, which is now used by 25 million people. 

Crowley said Burn and ITP gave him a needed boost after a post dot-com-crash slump in which he was unemployed and unsure of what to do next.

"I don't think I ever had a business conversation with Red," Crowley said. "I think if I did she would have shut me down and said 'Hey, the thing you need to focus on is building stuff that people love and building stuff that you love building.'"


Dennis Crowley

Hosted by:

Manoush Zomorodi

Produced by:

Cambra Moniz-Edwards and Daniel P. Tucker

Comments [2]

Anne McKay

We all make mistakes, and I made one in my 9/18/13 comment:

Dr. Martin Elton accepted the Chairmanship of ITP in 1979, on the condition that he could step down after two years, in 1981. Dr. Mitchell Moss, from NYU's GPA took over from Dr.Elton in 1981.

Sep. 19 2013 01:24 PM
Anne McKay from NewTechCity, 9/11

Your statement about Red Burns -- "...her ITP, which she started in 1979..." is not only incorrect, but an injustice to the real founder of the
Interactive Telecommunications Program (ITP)
Tisch School of the Arts
New York University.

Check the 9/13 NYT Red Burns obituary, corrected from the original 8/26 version (see "correction" at the end).

The real founder is Dr. Martin Elton. His role in developing, promoting, and implementing the idea in the late 1970's is fully documented in easily-available records in NYU's Bobst Library. As is his assumption of the title and work of first Chairman in 1979. He remained in that role through 1982. I know because I was there as a student during that time.

I'm mailing a letter with further documentation and details to Manoush, Cambra and Daniel.

Thank you.

Sep. 18 2013 06:21 PM

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