Ch-Ch-Changes

Cofounder Naveen Selvadurai Leaves Foursquare

"after three years, i feel i’ve done all i can do and i’m moving on. dennis and i have been discussing timing for a while, and we decided that now, on this anniversary, it feels right to begin the transition."
naveen e1330956672219 Cofounder Naveen Selvadurai Leaves Foursquare

Mr. Selvadurai at SXSW 2011.

Foursquare’s well-dressed cofounder Naveen Selvadurai announced today that he has decided “to transition out of foursquare” almost exactly three years after the company launched at SXSW 2009. The announcement comes as a surprise; Foursquare is going strong with 15 million users and a second office in San Francisco. But Mr. Selvadurai is ready for his next entrepreneurial venture, the cofounder said, and Om Malik is reporting that Foursquare investor Spark Capital snatched up some of his stock. TechCrunch’s Eric Eldon reports that SV Angel is also buying employee stock.

Foursquare sent the following statement by email: “When Naveen and Dennis launched foursquare at SXSW 2009, they had a few hundred beta testers. Now, as we approach our third birthday, we have a community of over 15 million that has checked in over 1.5 billion times. This wouldn’t have been possible without Naveen’s creativity, vision, and tireless work. We’re sad to see him go, but excited to see what he builds next. We can’t thank him enough for everything he’s done to make foursquare what it is today.”

Cofounder Dennis Crowley has not commented on Twitter and did not immediately respond to an email asking for a quote, but tweeted a few hours after Mr. Selvadurai’s announcement:

Before Foursquare, Mr. Selvadurai worked as an engineer at Sun Microsystems, a blogger at Nokia, and VP of engineering at Socialight, an East Village startup that was recently acquired by Group Commerce. In addition to working at Foursquare, where he will remain as an advisor and board member, he is an adjunct professor at Cooper Union in New York as well as an occasional hand model.

Mr. Selvadurai announced the move on Twitter and posted the details of why he’s leaving on his blog, which at one point after the announcement was down due to traffic. Here’s the text:

three years ago this week, when dennis and i were putting the finishing touches on the vision for this company, we had a hundred or so beta testers who helped us reach the finish line. we went down to sxsw to tell the world about foursquare.it’s hard to believe that now, three years later, instead of one hundred beta testers, the company has over a hundred incredibly talented employees helping us realize that vision. and they’re building amazing things.

in that time, i’ve worn a ton of hats: from product to engineering, from funding rounds to roadshows, from recruiting to evangelizing. but, after three years, i feel i’ve done all i can do and i’m moving on. dennis and i have been discussing timing for a while, and we decided that now, on this anniversary, it feels right to begin the transition. so this will be my last month working at foursquare. over the course of the next few weeks, i’m going to be taking a step back as my final projects near their release.

i’ve always been here for the company and i always will be. i look quietly around the office every once in a while as the team works (not. creepy. at. all.) and i can’t tell you how proud i am of everyone. we’ve brought together an incredibly special group – one that’s going to go down in history – and they’re going to keep making us all proud.

going forward, i’m going to continue to be connected to the company: i’m on the board, i’ll still be advising, and i’m obviously going to be the single most vocal user. but the spring is time for things that are new, and i realize that i have a desire to do something new as well. i’m not sure about my exact next steps, but i’ll probably get back to what i love most – being an entrepreneur, learning and building new things.

three years ago, we took an idea and threw it into the world. i’m going to miss the crazy intensity that is foursquare, but am excited to see where it all goes from here.

Foursquare has not had the early exodus of employees seen at Facebook, although Nathan Folkman, head of operations, left for Facebook in 2010 and eventually ended up at Path.

Follow Adrianne Jeffries on Twitter or via RSS. ajeffries@observer.com