Foursquare, Watch Your Back Gowalla is erasing the line separating the real world from its virtual counterpart.
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Gowalla is equal parts personal scrapbook, travel guide and geo-specific social network. Like archrival Foursquare, Gowalla lets consumers check in at restaurants, bars and related points of interest worldwide via GPS-enabled mobile devices. Users can recommend locations to friends, share photos and notes on their experience and even earn passport-inspired "stamps" and digital rewards for their efforts.
"Gowalla is about recording and sharing favorite places with friends, and the social status that comes along with that," says CEO Josh Williams. So far, the Austin, Texas, company has raised nearly $11 million in venture financing. "We're tapping into a basic human desire to associate with a sense of place."
A growing number of people believes Gowalla is the place to be: As of April, more than 250,000 "Gowalla Passport Holders" from 170 countries had checked in, and usage is increasing by more than 60 percent every month, Williams says.