|Type of business||C corporation|
|Founded||2 April 2003 (New Hampshire nonprofit organization)|
3 May 2011 (Delaware for-profit corporation)
|Key people||Patrick Dugan, CEO & CFO|
Matt Cohler, Investor
Casey Fenton, Chairman
Social networking service
|Alexa rank||4,245 (As of 7 December 2018[update])|
400,000 active hosts
|Launched||June 12, 2004|
CouchSurfing is a hospitality and social networking service accessible via a website and mobile app. Members can use the service to arrange homestays, offer lodging and hospitality, and join events such as "Couch Crashes".
The platform is a gift economy; hosts are not allowed to charge for lodging. Members set up an online identity, and after leaving comments on their experiences with other members, develop a reputation. Members can either directly request lodging from other members or post their travel plans publicly and receive offers from other members. However, unless members go through a verification process, which includes a one-time US$60 charge (waived for members who host 4 times per year), they are only able to send messages to 10 other members per week.
- 1 History
- 1.1 Conception (1999–2004)
- 1.2 Development of the website by volunteers (2006–2011)
- 1.3 Change to a for-profit corporation and financing (2011)
- 1.4 Launch and development of mobile apps
- 1.5 Management
- 1.6 Membership statistics
- 2 References
- 3 External links
Couchsurfing was conceived by computer programmer and New Hampshire native Casey Fenton in 1999, when he was 21 years old. The idea arose after Fenton found a cheap flight from Boston to Iceland but did not have lodging. Fenton hacked into a database of the University of Iceland and randomly e-mailed 1,500 students asking for a homestay. He received between 50 and 100 offers and chose to stay at the home of an Icelandic rhythm and blues singer. On the return flight to Boston, he came up with the idea to create the website. He registered the couchsurfing.com domain name on 12 June 1999.
Development of the website by volunteers (2006–2011)
From 2006 until the company raised financing in 2011, development of the website occurred mostly at events called "Couchsurfing Collectives", in which members came together to voluntarily improve the website. Collectives took place in Montreal, Vienna, New Zealand, Rotterdam, Costa Rica, Samara, Alaska, Istanbul, and Thailand. However, the collectively-coded website, which was full of software bugs, could not handle the rapid increases in traffic and crashes were common. Many members believed that the website needed to be redesigned from scratch.
In June 2006, problems with the website database resulted in much of it being irrevocably lost. Founder Casey Fenton posted online asking for help. A Couchsurfing Collective was underway in Montreal at the time and those in attendance raised $8,000 in donations and committed to recreate the website.
Change to a for-profit corporation and financing (2011)
The company applied for status as a 501(c)(3) nonprofit organization in November 2007 but was rejected by the Internal Revenue Service in early 2011. Hoffer, in charge of strategic development, then believed that non-profit status was an obstacle to innovation due to the audit and regulatory requirements and that a for-profit corporation was the best structure for the company.
The New Hampshire entity Couchsurfing International Inc. was dissolved on 4 November 2011. Its assets were sold to a for-profit Delaware corporation, also called Couchsurfing International, Inc., which was formed on 3 May 2011.
In August 2011, in conjunction with the reorganization to a for-profit corporation, the company raised $7.6 million in a first-round financing led by Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network.
In August 2012, Couchsurfing received an additional $15 million in funding from an investor group led by General Catalyst Partners, with participation by Menlo Ventures, as well as existing investors Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network. The additional funding brought the company’s total funding raised to $22.6 million.
Criticism from members of the conversion to a for-profit corporation
The conversion to a for-profit corporation was objected to by many members. Founder Casey Fenton said he received 1,500 emails in the days after announcing the conversion. Even though the founders did not receive any cash from the financing, members were opposed to the founders having a valuable ownership interest in an organization that was financed by donations and built using volunteer work. The company spent more than $10,000 on a public relations firm to educate its directors on how to respond to the press about the conversion to a for-profit entity. A 3-page letter was sent to over 1,000 volunteers.
Launch and development of mobile apps
Since August 5, 2016, Patrick Dugan has been the CEO, CFO, and Secretary of Couchsurfing International, Inc. As of November 2018, William Francesco Deparis was the Director of Operations. Casey Fenton is no longer involved in the day-to-day operations of the company.
The board of directors of the company includes founder and Chairman Casey Fenton as well as venture capital investors Matt Cohler of Benchmark, Todor Tashev of Omidyar Technology Ventures, and Jonathan Teo of Binary Capital.
|June 2004||0 (Launch)|
|January 2018||15,000,000, including 400,000 active hosts|||
In 2017, Dan Fultz, head of support and safety, stated that "Couchsurfing activity certainly dipped between the ‘heyday’ and today".
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|Look up couch surf in Wiktionary, the free dictionary.|
- Media related to Couchsurfing at Wikimedia Commons
|Wikimedia Commons has media related to Couchsurfing.|
- Official website
- See also How to use Couchsurfing, a how-to article from wikiHow
- See also How to be a great Couchsurfer, a how-to article from wikiHow
- See also How to host on Couchsurfing, a how-to article from wikiHow
- See also How to write a Couchsurfing request, a how-to article from wikiHow