CouchSurfing chief says his goal is to go public (Google Translation from elpais.com)
Daniel Hoffer announces he will not let annoying advertising
AirBNB.com does the same thing, but seven years earlier version and solidarity. CouchSurfing connects travelers seeking shelter in the world, even in Antarctica, with people willing to cede free. The site was created in San Francisco by Casey Fenton in 2003. Since then he has collected three million Internet users in 230 countries and borrowed couches and beds in 60,000 cities.
Around the World in 30 sofas
Private investors have pumped 5.5 million euros in the company
CouchSurfing is also a symbol of Internet collaborative Wikipedia-style: a non-profit or volunteer to write code to translate the content, is in 31 languages, which also receives donations. In 2009, for example, got $ 1.1 million (780,000 euros).
We no longer accept. CouchSurfing has changed its legal status “nonprofit” to business. It has also achieved $ 7.6 million (5.4 million) from private investors. Including Pierre Omidyar, eBay creative philanthropist, and Matt Cohler, Facebook and LinkedIn ex.
The changes have led to recriminations between the community of CouchSurfers, 28 years on average, they have managed to spend the night over his face in a strange house 3.6 million times in this time. They fear the free couch to go to hell, but rather that the database service is sold to third parties.
Daniel Hoffer, CEO of the company since January, denied in a telephone interview that the site will change their “social mission”. The problem, he argues, is that the Government of New Hampshire have been denied the status of “temporary” NGOs. “What we have asked from the beginning, since 2003.” The legal battle with including appeals, has taken seven years. “We lost. The U.S. government has tightened the conditions for non-profit company, they seek money as” jokes Hoffer.
The situation, he says, has left them broke. “Not only have we paid big bucks for lawyers, also a million dollars to the State of New Hampshire, and so we come to for funding.”
It also supports the manager of 33 years, “it is difficult to find engineers to work with us because we do not pay well.” The Bachelor of Business Administration believes that it can properly run the site “to volunteer, because people work two hours a week and no more may be required.”
His goal now is to “improve service”. For example, an “application for mobile phone,” AirBNB like that puts travelers in touch with home in apartments and private homes, and has achieved some eighty million euros of funding having grown 800% in 2010 .
Hoffer CouchSurfing does not give figures, the index 1700 Alexa ranks as the most visited Internet. “We have a lot of traffic and a lot of expenses on servers and bandwidth,” he says.
If the first step is to improve the supply, the second is “to grow. A road that will lead to the goal: go public.” As no investor money without releasing the vacuum to a return on investment, before advertising on the page added.
It will not be today or tomorrow. “We are still discussing what business model adopted for CouchSurfing. We do not want annoying ads and in any case, you must please the community. In addition, most services will remain free so that people can continue traveling around the world” , defends Hoffer.
¿Split the money among the volunteers who have written code, which have translated the site into other languages or between landlords? “We are three million people in 230 countries. It would be difficult to share the money among all, if we did. The reality, however, is that we are not profitable.”
The $ 7.6 million (5.5 million) obtained from serve investors, he says, to hire the best engineers, “so that eventually the money will be returned to the community in the form of improvements.” Hoffer believes that when people understand the way the site will include undertaking “and accept”.
The site no longer accepts donations, volunteers and partners continue to be welcome. “Our social mission has not changed, although we now have company,” Hoffer insists, adding: “Part of the money paid as taxes on New Hampshire will be for a charitable initiative. Each project is eligible for $ 30,000 (21,000 euros).” It is the cultural exchange fund CouchSurfing.