Wired UK crowns Foursquare King on cover, but UK peasants revolt

This month’s Wired UK magazine has pulled out the stops and put Foursquare founder Dennis Crowley on the cover. In spades. Crowley is pictured wearing a crown and is dubbed “The New King of Social Media”. The subhead is “Why Google, Yahoo and Facebook want to unlock his world.”

That’s a pretty big accolade and, indeed, Crowley has written a long explanation about how the cover story and shoot came about. He says “not to nerd out, but this is the stuff that Little Denny College dreamed big about back in 1997 (for real)… so I’m pretty happy with it :)”

As you can see, the photographer made him wear some makeup “but I think my luscious lips and forearms are photoshopped,” says Crowley.

Not everyone is happy with Wired’s angle, but more of that later. Meantime, here’s Crowley take:

We met up with Wired writer Neal Pollack in Austin during SXSW who trailed team foursquare for a few days. Neal wrote a pretty great piece which is in the July 2010 issue of Wired UK. (this cover / story won’t be in the US version of Wired). You can read the whole story here.

When we got back to NYC, we ended up doing a photo shoot w/ Brett Humphreys at Larry Lawrence in Williamsburg. They insisted on Larry Lawrence because of a similar shoot they had done w/ Josh Williams and crew in Austin and wanted to pair the photos up side by side (both bars have similar looking decor). They asked us to round up 20 of our friends and head out to Brooklyn on a random weekday afternoon, so we got on the Twitter and tried our best to create a mini flashmob. The photo came out great and side-by-side they’re even better. Take a look.

About a week after the shoot, the editor of Wired UK called and asked if we wanted to be on the cover. So I went over to a studio in the West Village, met up with Jill Greenberg (the photographer. she was great… and also shot Soraya’s awesome Fast Company cover) and this is the end result. There was a stylist (that’s not my shirt!) and a make-up person (I got a free haircut!)… and a bunch of crowns. 95% of the shots were no crown (“no way am I wearing that thing”) though we did a few with in on… and I guess crown won. So be it. To be honest, I thought the crown was more of a prop for the foursquare “mayor” thing… I didn’t really think it was a “King of Social Media” thing (does anyone really believe that… come’on, people!)

Anyway, not to nerd out, but this is the stuff that Little Denny College dreamed big about back in 1997 (for real)… so I’m pretty happy with it :)

He then goes on to give some advice to anyone faced with the prospect of a photoshoot, such as “I can totally see how photographers get people to do crazy things in photoshoots” and “bring a friend with you that can tell you whether you are taking it a little too far.”

However, he points out that the famous European conference DLD actually sold photos on of him to other media outlets which is pretty ridiculous.

But this Wired UK cover shoot has stirred some feelings of angst amongst the UK’s Foursquare competitors.

Andrew Scott, CEO of Rummble (which just got $800k more runway) has been battling WiredUK on Twitter about the cover.

He tweets: “Unimpressed by @WiredUK ignoring @Rummble@TellMeWhere et al in July issue 8pgs+cover of 4sq & Gowalla. Can u ever imagine that in reverse?”

In other words, would Wired US ever put the CEO of non US startup on the cover? Well, actually it almost certainly has, but then it’s usually because the company is making big waves.

The inherent problem with European mobile location startups is that they have tended to concentrate on their home markets.TellMeWhere is largely France-based (though trying to break out), and although Rummble has over 100,000 users globally it has not yet had a “break-out” moment.

Wired UK isn’t taking it lying down however. As it’s Twitter account (usually run by editor David Rowan), says “@andrewjscott Hmm, just counted more than a dozen UK startups celebrated in the new issue. But hey – feel free to moan!”