Foursquare is excited to announce the new SVP of Engineering and Executive Team member, Ankit Patel. With over 15 years of experience in different roles and organizations at Amazon, Ankit will be leading engineering across Foursquare to drive a culture of builders and pioneers. This marks another significant appointment made by Gary Little since his start as CEO at the beginning of 2021, following the appointments of Jonathan Bank and Michele Morelli to Executive positions and Gina Loften to the Board of Directors.
Ankit always had a passion for problem-solving—in high school, he spent endless hours learning about ethical hacking and how to “out-smart” companies that had recently moved to the internet. After graduating, he attended the University of Waterloo majoring in Computer Engineering and as an intern for Intel, BlackBerry, and the financial sector, solidifying his passion and talent for solving hard problems.
To learn more about Ankit, his thoughts, and his vision for Foursquare, check out the below Q&A:
Tell us about your career path and background.
Ever since I was a child, I have been a builder. In grade school, I spent many weekends building small applications and games. I enjoyed creating new things out of things that were already built. I would stay up late and watch MacGyver with my Dad. I loved how MacGyver made clever solutions using simple things to solve “unsolvable” problems.
After college, I decided to pursue my passion as a builder and joined Amazon as an individual contributor. Amazon was an extraordinary place to be a builder, be curious, and listen to your customers.
In my first role at Amazon, I was part of a newly founded team that had the opportunity to build one of Amazon’s largest and most transformative businesses, Fulfillment by Amazon (FBA). FBA enabled 3rd party sellers to utilize Amazon’s vast assets in Ordering, Fulfillment, Supply Chain, Logistics, and Customer Service to build and grow their businesses. Driving this change was challenging for Amazon, as we needed to move fast, enabling Amazon’s core technologies to be multi-tenant and usable by millions of individual sellers.
I realized my passion overtime was beyond technology and business, and that I enjoyed being the coach more than the player. Luckily, I had the opportunity to build some of the best organizations inside of Amazon – including Amazon Prime’s engineering teams, which were disjointed, lacked engineering culture, and was a bottleneck for the company. Over the coming years, we built an inclusive, healthy, and customer-centric organization in Prime. We drove innovations through engineering and science that changed how we understood our customers and delivered an extensible, self-service membership platform for Amazon. At this point, I understood Amazon’s Day 1 Culture, where customers are the center of everything. We took a long-term focus, obsessing over customers and pursuing bold innovation. In contrast to Day 2 mentality, where most companies slow down with scale, teams become less agile, move further away from the customers, and focus on internal challenges instead of customer-centric innovation.
After ten years with Amazon’s core retail business, I became General Manager of AWS IoT Platform. We enabled thousands of companies, including Amazon, to transform their business and accomplish things that would otherwise be impractical or cost-prohibitive. We developed enterprise offerings and solved unique problems around intermittent connectivity, data governance, analytics, security, and management of IoT assets (sensors, devices, equipment) at a very large scale for our customer. I learned the value of empowering teams to be builders and enabling them to reinvent experiences that remove friction and allow their customers to innovate at speed.
What will your role be at Foursquare, and how will it help drive Foursquare’s vision of ‘Foursquare Everywhere’?
As Senior Vice President of Engineering, I will be leading engineering across Foursquare. Foursquare builds the most trusted location technology platform that enterprises can depend on to build world-class applications and derive unmatched insights. Foursquare has a deep history in solving these problems and is the market leader in this emerging category. My role will be to accelerate the offerings that Foursquare provides to every vertical, customer and partner, and drive a culture of builders and pioneers inside the company.
What do you see as the greatest challenges facing enterprise customers today? What role can Foursquare play in addressing those challenges?
The world is changing fast; advances in IoT, payments, communications, and compute infrastructure enable smaller companies to compete more effectively and efficiently with established players in every market. Companies need to adapt and digitally transform their businesses. These companies want solutions – they want to solve a problem. However, typical enterprise offerings only provide a limited set of point solutions. Customers are required to invest heavily in engineering, data science, and security to solve their problems. It’s frankly just too expensive. At Foursquare, we have built the most trusted, independent, secure suite of location offerings to solve these problems. We do the heavy lifting, so our customers don’t have to. As a result, our offerings are more complete, require fewer resources, and drive greater impact.
Beyond typical roles and expectations, how do you see different operations teams, such as marketing, sales, and product, contributing to the growth strategy of companies like Foursquare?
We are a product company. We work backwards from our customers and work tirelessly for them. We have more than ten years of deep experience building innovations around location technology, and we are just getting started. Our marketing and sales organizations work extremely hard to deliver these innovations to our customers.
What do you believe are the greatest growth opportunities ahead for Foursquare?
We are still in the very early days of companies digitally transforming their businesses. We have an exciting roadmap of services and features that will help companies move even quicker. We are positioned very well in the market and already provide services to some of the largest enterprise customers that want to leverage our offerings across every line of their businesses.
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