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Archive for the 'Finances' Category

IPO! and some random numbers

CouchSurfing Inc. seems to have been more transparent than ever in the past couple of weeks. But as usual, you’ll find the most accurate news elsewhere. I’m not talking about OpenCS, this miserable bunch of folks who have been clamoring in the desert for years. No I’m talking about Spain’s most respected newspaper:
The CouchSurfing Chief assures that the objective is to get CS shares traded on the stock market. IPO! IPO!

So we go from NGO to B rated to IPO!

I don’t know what to think of this except for that we’ve been missing out on some financial analysis here. So…

Some random numbers

I don’t think the valuating the company based on the number of 3 million members makes any sense, a large part of those are not active (heck, quite a few must have died by now even). So let’s do a search “Everywhere” for people with host status Yes or Maybe. Today, I get about 350.000 results.

If we assume that 7.6 million US$ have bought 10% of the company that gives a value of a bit more than 200$ per host.

With the current rate of 30.000 new signups per week and a hosting ratio of about 40% (yes+maybe) that means the company’s value is increasing with 2.4 million US$ every week.

Not bad, aye?

Well, that presumes that the new signups are as much into hosting as people who signed up 5 years ago.

Funny enough, today there were 2500 fewer potential hosts than yesterday.

And… rumors have it that over 100.000 members have deleted their profile in the first week after the announcement of going B-corporate.

And so it goes down

This is where I say: told you so. I envy the person that will eventually write the history of how Couchsurfing came crashing down, for the story is filled with betrayal, success, horror, sex, drugs and money. No, seriously, “Social Network” is a Disney movie compared to the R-rated chronicles of Couchsurfing.

For those just tuning in, where are we in the scenario? We’ve seen a community founded on lofty ideals, grow, nay burst with activity and numbers, we’ve seen hubris take the form of work-as-permanent-vacation, we’ve seen scandals of every sort imaginable, we’ve seen the falling out of all the idealistic volunteers and – not so long ago – the original founder has gone into hiding. As predicted, the money-flow eventually became insufficient to full-fill the beast that was created. Worse yet, the beast had not been paying taxes because “the IRS didn’t understand the innovative commercial nature of our non-profit” and now must be fed even more:

“I think the best possible structure is the one we have. One of the challenges with nonprofits is it’s difficult to adapt quickly and easily from a business model perspective because you need clearance from the IRS. Now we get that flexibility and we’re still making a statement.” – Dan Hoffer (in Techcrunch)

What is amazing is that they have found VC money (a mere 7,6 million $, which is actually pretty abismal and probably indicative of the low expectancy of success) and have thus kept afloat even now. The CS inner crowd are survivors, you have to respect that at least. And they know how to lie to, judging by this bit:

“Indeed, one of the big reasons they decided to take funding and switch the company’s classification was to make it easier to recruit stock-option seeking engineers.” (same Techcrunch article)

Anyone who knows anything knows the switch in classification was forced unto CS, after years of fruitfully trying to obtain 501(c)3, but I guess it’s important to start rewriting history as soon as possible.

Here’s the problem though. How are they going to earn those VC’s their big bucks? You have to keep in mind that the expectation here is about 5-7 times (!) the investment in about 4-5 years and the clock has started ticking. It is easy to see that the current revenue stream just doesn’t work: verification fees are eventually going to dry up (most likely have hit their peak already). And donating to a for-profit? I just don’t see it happening. This means CS is going to have to find a steady income stream and – I would expect – even have already made indications to the VC’s of where they might get it. Now, I only see two options:

  1. They start making money off the “daily activity”, which would be hosting itself. Dan hints at “premier services”, but I don’t think that is going to fly for a two reasons. a) You can only run a verification scam once. b) It is insanely hard to convert non-paying volunteers into paying customers. c) There are still free alternatives out there, BeWelcoming everyone with open arms. (OK, that’s three reasons.) I honestly doubt they will go this route, but with Todor Tashev on board it might just happen. Todor Tashev is also on the board of Meetup, a company that successfully makes money from their volunteer-run activities.
  2. They go the Facebook route of leveraging the personal data that is embedded in the social network that Couchsurfing is to a large extent. The fact that Matt Cohler (heavy duty ex-Facebook guy) has joined the board as well makes this a very frightening possibility. On a practical level, this would mean letting companies access the enormous amount of personal information, so they can give you those personalized ads you’ve always wanted. The advantage is that this can be introduced in a nice and sneaky way, the disadvantage is that a large majority of couchsurfers are on there precisely because they don’t have cash to burn. I guess you can always try to schlepp airplane tickets or discount backpacks, but that is a rough business (travel is an industries with razor-thin margins, keeping afloat mainly on quantity).
Either way, holy shit, that is going to be difficult. Points to the VC guys for having so much self-confidence.
Here are the blind angles though, the things that are going to kick their asses all over their no doubt fancy San Fransisco offices :
  1. We may assume the code is still an unholy patchwork and they are going to throw some “stock-option seeking engineers” at it. Oh lord, this is going to be spectacular. And by spectacular, I mean a disaster.
  2. They are going to have to transform one of the most self-centered and non-standard organization into a well-oiled money making machine. And by non-standard, I mean bat-shit insane.
Wrestling the Couchsurfing culture to the ground is going to way more difficult than any of these guys can ever imagine. But hey, Digg succeeded in doing that right? No, wait, they got their asses handed to them by Reddit (the 5 years younger open-source alternative).
Here’s what I predict:
  • A spectacular series of technical failures as these stock-option seeking engineers break stuff that wasn’t meant to be touched – ever.
  • An incredible and ugly public fight with their own user-base. All these ambassadors that worked so hard to earn their badge for the wonderful non-profit, someone is bound to get angry, no? Not only that, but imagine the dirt that is lying around (on this site as well as various archives). I mean, seriously, did none of these investors do their homework?
  • Couchsurfing will never ever break-even.

Blurb from the COO: “very few resources to dedicate full-time attention to every program that we offer.”

Apparently news of the translation team strike has reached up to the CS COO:

Hello translation team members!

First, I want to thank you all for your dedication to this team and for wanting to help make CouchSurfing available to more members around the world. Translations is important to us and we couldn’t do it without you.

I understand from Benjamin that this team is on strike and no longer actively translating the site. He has brought up several issues with us that we are trying to better figure out. This area is important to us and we want to be sure that we have thoroughly researched the issues before we proceed with a larger scale solution and possibly make it worse. I apologize if this process is taking longer than some of you may like. As you know, CouchSurfing is a non-profit organization. With very limited funding we, in turn, have very few resources to dedicate full-time attention to every program that we offer. Our tech team alone has hundreds of priorities listed and are working around the clock to get to everything as quick as possible.

We have certainly not given up on our Translations area and are working to correct the issues as soon as possible. Many of these issues are complex and difficult to understand exactly what is wrong with them but the tech team has been steadily resolving the reported bugs concerning it. For example, this weeks’ updated code release included some fixes to some backend functions that should help. It was reported that some updated translations were overwritten whenever our website code was updated. This should now be fixed. If you see this still happening please report it to the SBOT team, through your designated coordinator, or directly to us at and choose the Translations option in the dropdown menu at the bottom of the page.

Also, our WebOps coordinator has asked Benjamin to step down from leading this team. In the coming weeks we’ll be talking to some team leaders about forming a new overall leadership post.

We understand that the translation system is not optimal and some of you may choose to remain on strike. But if you’d like to continue translating please do. It’s completely up to you. If you no longer wish to remain on the translations team we ask that you kindly remove yourself from the translation groups and let us know in the future if you’d like to come back. Again, this is completely up to you. We appreciate and value your help and want to help you help the organization for as long as you’d like to contribute.

Thanks for your help, everyone. We couldn’t do what we all do together if it wasn’t for team members like yourself. You rock!

Happy Surfing and translating!

Jim Stone
Chief Operations Officer
CouchSurfing International

I couldn’t have written a better analysis than Margaret’s:

…has the CS management never heard of working together to reach a compromise? What about ‘negotiation’…does that word ring a bell?

I find Jim Stone’s answer to the Translations Team to be both disrespectful and disingenuous. If I had to devise an approach to the management of volunteer groups which would definitely *not work*, and would alienate and anger any competent volunteer, I could not have come up with a better example than this post from the COO.

I cannot imagine why any sane person, excepting those with pathologically low levels of self-esteem, would continue to volunteer for this organization.

This post is an example of exceptionally incompetent volunteer management because:

1. Jim says that his team must more thoroughly research the areas of concern, that Ben and this same team have already clearly and concretely outlined, before making any changes…why? Because (in classic arrogant disregard of volunteers by paid staff…) to follow the advice outlined by Ben, the team leader, would “…possibly make it worse” (“it” being the situation…please see paragraph 1 in the link Kasper provides). This is administrative double-speak at it’s most irritating….and is a thinly veiled excuse to buy time.

2. Jim excuses his own management incompetence by saying this: “As you know, CouchSurfing is a non-profit organization. With very limited funding we, in turn, have very few resources to dedicate full-time attention to every program that we offer.”

NO! I have never, ever, in my 5 years of reviewing non-profits, seen any organization excuse unprofessional behavior by saying, well…ya know…we’re *just* a non-profit.

Non-profits are held to even GREATER standards of professionalism than for-profits; they have to be, because they rely upon the public trust for funding. You never, ever, ever, want to betray this public trust…so to say that you cannot run or fund your programs appropriately because you are too poor is admitting your own inability to run the org….every non-profit is in this same situation…other managers just manage it better!

Jim Stone suggests that CS can’t do its job because it does not have the riches of a for-profit company; this excuse is simply insulting to the literally millions of non-profits which perform miracles, daily, on shoestring budgets: providing food, housing, jobs, hope and life to humanity, simply because this is their charitable mission. This can-do spirit is INSPIRING to volunteers…people want to join an org that puts it out there, for the universal good, despite having limited funding. Limited funding is not an excuse in the non-profit world. NO ONE wants to pitch in and help an organization which excuses its own management incompetence by saying they dont’ have enough money!! Do these guys want to drive away their own staff? good lord, it’s astonishing.

(the poverty plea is actually a lie: CS has tons of money…more than enough…to fund its programming. They simply *choose* to not put this money toward programming. What do they spend it on? Cohabitation bonuses, airfare, rent for luxurious spaces on the beach, and that nebulous catch-all category: Talent

Jim has shown, in this post, a distressing lack of talent. If you add the entire expenditures from the Talent portion of the financial pie, you’ll see that CS spent (I’m assuming this past year, since this info is not dated…incompetence again) $1,590,172 on “Talent” alone…and for what? We get a reference counter that is far inferior to one developed, for free, by Dan?

Jim is the head of Operations. According to the pie chart linked above, CS spent $169, 032 on operations during whatever fiscal time frame this webpage documents. What has that money purchased?? Jill Kohlberg, the PAID volunteer coordinator-type person is unresponsive and evidently AWOL (despite her LinkedIn profile saying that she’s still getting a CS paycheck (source: ) ….while the competent Translations Team leader, Benjamin, who has diligently worked for free, is *fired*.)

…and “operations” is spelled “opperations”!

Well… I have one thing to add, it’s the first public post of someone in the higher spheres of CS in a while. One has to have respect for that!

Blurbs from BSR

Sometimes I come across some very accurate and insightful messages in the Brainstorm Redefined group. And I just adhocratically decided to copy some of that stuff here, where it is actually indexed by Googlebot for others to find in the future.


“just a way to pay some employees more than others”

I’m fairly certain that it’s just a way to pay for the inner circle’s rent out of company/charity funds, without paying income tax on the value of the benefit. Because that’s what it usually is. And that’s what it was about when they were paying supposedly tax free flat rate ‘daily travel allowances’ for long term employees, or before that, when they paid flat rate ‘travel expense reimbursements’, or before that, when they were offering ‘free food and lodging’, as a perk for ‘volunteers’.

And it’s not as if the IRS had never come across it. There are certain areas of maximum suspicion in all tax jurisdictions: tax free benefits in kind, foreign business travel to popular holiday resorts, employing family/friends, (sub-)contracts between legal entities owned by the same people, all kinds of expenditure that may be (partly) private, etc. They all raise red flags with tax inspectors, and give them the hope of shining in the eyes of their superiors by catching a crook.

Having a nice place, however, may well turn out to be a ‘chick magnet’, as I believe the phrase is in heterosexual womanising circles.


perhaps it’s not useful to think of CS selecting for ‘dumb’ women, but to view the managers as valuing loyalty in their hiring selection. In my opinion, you must simply do your job and keep quiet to remain employed by CS. Your place is very circumscribed and the understanding is clear: if you want this job, you lose your voice.

I hosted Mandie, the former communications directors, and she was really smart. I also admire Meredith’s writing skills (current communications director) and I hear that Rachel is simply wonderful to work with: professional, prompt, responsive and super competent. I dont’ think any of these people could be considered stupid.

I do think that CS values loyalty and discernment in their hiring choices. The way to get, and keep, your job is to either not notice problems, or notice them and shut up about it…I think CS values employees who are very patient and who do not think critically about problem solving…which is a long term concern for the survivability of this org under its current management. Most organizations value employees who notice, and point up problems, early on before they become larger concerns….it’s the only way to ensure quality.

What To Do With The Extra Money?

Couchsurfing’s strategy is “not sustainable”, concludes a Couchsurfing interim marketing consultant in a presentation given in San Francisco last Summer. “In order to keep cashflow, you would need to grow all the time”.

The consultant Mirek, also a CS-member, served at Basecamp from 16-21 July 2009 for Gadget and Matthew Brauer. The presentation of his ideas and conclusions can be found online (pdf, odp ).

Some Couchsurfing Facts from the presentation:

  1. CS has 15-20 thousand new users each week
  2. 5.6% of them pay verification fee of 26 $
  3. That makes more than 20.000 USD flowing in every week = ca. 1 mln USD a year.
  4. Expenses = 700-800 K USD
  5. 200.000 USD of surplus, and growing…
  6. Big Question: What to do with the extra money?

Mirek has some nice other nice observations about the organisational model of Couchsurfing. “Your present structure is based on a ‘family business’ model: tasks and responsibilities are ‘automatically’ assigned to people (mainly insiders).”

He advices to give it more structure, to have better defined functions and thinks it is a bad idea “to pay salaries to people staying [at Basecamp] up to one year, even if you have enough money. This would spoil the CS atmosphere and cause lot of formal (legal) obstacles.”

Interesting enough, Mirek explains to see donations as “a loan of trust”, which CS has to repay, “by improving the value you bring to CS users.” Couchsurfing should do that by “improving the website and services” and the organization, “so you are able to create a better product”.

Why sponsoring CS doesn’t work

Quite interesting, my first Ghanese spammer. And the proof why registration for Couchsurfing doesn’t work:

Schermafbeelding 2010-01-03 om 10.40.00

Too bad that CS doesn’t use SpamAssassin. But what about the profile (

Schermafbeelding 2010-01-03 om 10.41.45

Why is a African person being able to “have a secure profile”, while everything is against him? Another proof that registration and sponsoring CS doesn’t make the system safer?

(Needless to say: I spammed the account…)

Have a great – and safe! – 2010!

SPOF’s as source of income

I wrote earlier at this blog that development at Couchsurfing isn’t the most stable part of the network. Today, lack of communication, as well as a simple programming error made a well respected member of the community leave. This can be read at a post by Thomas, as well as on the original source.

What really amazed me was the reason of the leave: a programming error, and not one, but one of many. I quote:

Another issue that was concerning me were bugs with simple fixes. Europeans consistently use commas to separate dollars and cents. However, many transactions were processed incorrectly, due to the comma. A member would attempt to donate 21,50, and 2,150 would be charged. Then it’s up to the member to notice the error, since we did not mail out receipts. I attempted and notified the LT that we should fix this ASAP, but it didn’t take top priority.

To be honest, I do not fully agree with Thomas stating that this is a scam, but I’m surely interested whether all the money is payed back as it should be. The programming error also makes clear that the creditcard-payments are handled at itself, instead of a payment broker. I’m not very clear if I would be glad to be a verified member…

Verification Team Leader resignation

It’s been a while since I’ve done any posting on OCS, but I stumbled across this post from the previous Verification Team Leader which provides invaluable information from the inside. It’s a long and painful read, but here’s what caught my attention the most:

  1. The Verification Team Leader himself admits that verification is a financial scam. There have been a lot of articles about this on OCS already.
  2. The sexual atmosphere at the collective has become even more out of touch with the real world and what Brian describes is absolutely cult behavior.
  3. Brian has only been volunteering for a year and he already writes: “And from what I read and gather, that’s fine by the LT. Seems that long-term volunteers are a pain in someone’s ass… not that they remember how CS was, but because they state issues, they are seen as trouble makers. I’m now one of them, I suppose.”

Welcome to the world outside of CS Brian!

The original post, now saved for prosperity and googlification:

I am attempting to abide by the guidelines within this group. I share here my letter to Jim and Casey for the reasons why I resigned as the Verification Team Leader, as many Ambs wrote to me off-site and asked for the ‘real reason.’ Here it is.

Dear Jim and Casey:

As you know, I’ve resigned as the Verification Team Leader. I currently remain on as a City Ambassador, NMW, CUQ Team Member, and co-moderator of the CUQ Team, unless you decide that it is not to be. I’ve always realized that this is your site, and the volunteers have very little to do with the direction that CS takes.

When I resigned from the verification team, it was a quickly written message to you. I had logged on, noticed yet another bug within the verification system, and realized that it was time for me to move on. I immediately remembered the bug of July 30 and 31 where everyone who tried to donate did so over and over, so their money was taken several times, many more than ten, but their profile was not updated. That bug immediately cost twelve man hours and we refunded almost $35,000 to members. I did not want to repeat that thankless amount of time working for free, with a ‘thank you’ given as a token gesture.

My thoughts of resigning actually began the week that I spent in San Francisco, at Base Camp. Jim and I spent a couple of weeks back and forth on email, trying to see if a ‘couch’ could be found for me at Base Camp. Mind you, this was not to be just a vacation for me, but Jim and I were going to work together to get me better trained. Back and forth the emails went, and the final note was basically, “We’ll house you somewhere… if you’re willing to sleep on a couch, then we’ll have room.” Not expecting anything else, I truly appreciated the housing accommodation as any true surfer appreciates an offer of accommodation.

The first weekend I was in SF was SF Gay Pride and I stayed with another CS friend. She also had another surfer (I’ll call her, D, as she has a starring role in this saga) for the weekend. We were invited to a CS brunch. Knowing that D was looking for longer-term couches due to a yoga class she was taking in SF, I introduced her to a group from BaseCamp at the brunch. When I mentioned that D was taking classes for Yoga, a couch was immediately offered to her at BC. And for a “week or so.” Mind you I had been emailing back and forth so that we could get some work done, but here was a young, cute lesbian who knew yoga, and she had a couch without any checking. Hmmm, didn’t someone say awhile back that if you’re cute and young……… and I’m sure one LT member would be very welcoming, in his mind.

A small side item… shortly after my visit, Jim, you requested a “friend” link. We were never friendly. We were friendly enough talking about work, etc… but while I visited SF for a week, you never once attempted to get to know me, to become friends.

I’ve coordinated volunteers for years, with many different organizations. Typically, an organization seeks to appreciate, thank and motivate all of it’s volunteers. I’ve never known an organization to house, feed and pay any of it’s volunteers. There’s never been (in my experience) an attempt to make the volunteer jobs of remote volunteers any better in this organization… not so if you’re at base camp. Meetings are held about how to make the dull volunteer’s jobs and lives better. More parties? More travel? More roadtrips? More alcohol and drugs? Perhaps you need more rooms for casual sex or perhaps an orgy room?

There are 100′s, perhaps 1,000′s, of volunteers who put in many hours in support of The CouchSurfing Project. 99% of those receive nothing in return, except perhaps an Ambassador flag. These volunteers work countless hours answering member questions, responding to issues, groups management, event management, locations management, AST/AMT, Ambassadors, spreading the word, and working remotely on Tech issues, and, until recently, assisting members with the Verification Program. Yet, there are a very few special volunteers who CS seem to revolve around.

These ‘core volunteers’ who live at BaseCamp or one of the collectives (mind you many may not have had a profile before becoming a ‘core volunteer’ or their profile had few references, vouches, or perhaps they hadn’t even become verified — profiles that I would be hesitant to surf/host with…) are asked to help make decisions (by voting at BC) and other important issues, but they seem not to be surfers, at all. Most seem very unwelcoming… that another someone is invading their secret society at BaseCamp. More than one person has said of BaseCamp, “they don’t seem like surfers.”

And if you’re tired of living in San Francisco, by all means, go to Costa Rica, or even to Turkey, where we can show even more appreciation to those we’ve already shown appreciation to. While “collectives” are said to be a mechanism of reaching out, most have their doors closed — except to a special few. And by the way, CS will pay you to go ‘home’ to your new house. My understanding is that to even be considered for Turkey, you’ll have had to do at least 3 hard months at BaseCamp or Costa Rica. Wow, things are hard! We’re sorry, let’s let you go to Turkey for awhile.

Many feel that the “volunteers” who live at BaseCamp are spoiled and self-righteous. Many also feel that they do not represent CS well, as many do not seem to be “surfers” at all. Many also realize that nepotism helps you to secure a spot. It’s been stated over and over that “who you know” has no bearing on who is ‘invited’ to live at BaseCamp. I don’t think so. Mrs. Gadget has housing and a position. Jim’s girlfriend has housing and a job. *Please NOTE that I have NOTHING against neither Ms. Gadget nor CaseyAnn personally.* A former house manager was a friend of TTT’s (so it’s been reported).

And not just housing, by the way. We’ll also give you a job! And a title, perhaps. Let’s not worry if you know nothing about Human Resources, Volunteer Coordination, or have no accounting background. Many members and Ambassadors also believe that it helps someone secure BaseCamp status by returning sexual favors. At least you have the rooms/space set up for it.

I’ve never been to a non-profit’s headquarters where there were rooms specifically for sexual encounters. And it comes with anal beads, mind you. Don’t get me wrong… I am a Sex Positive person. but when positions and housing and food and travel are given because of this, then the word volunteer should be changed to another word, meaning the exchange of sex for cash or other tangible items. Do you think the American Red Cross has anal beads anywhere within their headquarters? I realize we are not the same, but still.

So, if you volunteer at BaseCamp, you’ll be rewarded richly. You’ll be housed in one of the most expensive cities in the US, or live in an international location with all the amenities you could never afford yourself volunteering.

The prior verification team leader received an amount for each verification. It makes sense to motivate this person. They are your key to income. Due to poor communication and no technical help, she resigned. I was asked to step in, and I did so. Mind you, I was never told about an “incentive” nor asked if I would like to volunteer at BaseCamp. So be it. The ‘volunteers’ who took the team over, 3 of them, will all be rewarded richly for their ‘hard work and dedication.’ They will be at BaseCamp, even though one is out of the country now so that the US government doesn’t catch on to what’s happening. I doubt the volunteers at BC actually tell Customs they are entering the US to be “paid” in housing and ‘stipends.’ Seems contradictory for a non-profit trying to gain Tax Exempt status to guide ‘volunteers’ on what to say so that the same government doesn’t block their entry into the US.

So, enough about me feeling sorry and not good enough to warrant an inquiry as to whether or not I’d like to be an “appreciated” volunteer and live at BaseCamp. We’ll bring in the store manager and let them stay a good 8 months, but not to worry, no work needs be done.

Many, many times I’ve answered members questions when they request a variance from the verification team, that “what we do for one, we must do for all.” CouchSurfing does not believe this. Let’s highly reward a very few, and the idiots who continue supporting our ‘chosen’ ones, will continue to do so, or leave. Not to worry, there are 1,000′s more who would love to give their time, energy and love to CS as others leave because they are tired of the BS.

Then comes the issue of disrespect to the volunteers who work their ass off to help us protect ourselves. Recently, a highly-respected long term volunteer left a negative reference for an LT member. Hers was the second negative reference. Both centered around inappropriate conduct. Almost immediately, the reference was removed by an LT member. NOT from the volunteer team with the responsibility to handle such issues — the MDST — but by a leadership team member. The member rewrote the reference, and it was put back onto “His” profile. Then, yet another LT member removed it. Mind you, if it were any of the 1,000′s of other volunteers NOT at BaseCamp receiving the reference, we would have had to wait until the MDST completed their review, and rightly so. But, if you “volunteer” at BaseCamp, then references don’t matter, it appears that an LT member can just delete ones they don’t like… regardless of whether it is factual or not. Again, what we do for one, we must do for all — does not apply.

Long-term volunteers are leaving in droves. I do not count myself as a long-term volunteer… I’ve only been volunteering the last year or so. And from what I read and gather, that’s fine by the LT. Seems that long-term volunteers are a pain in someone’s ass… not that they remember how CS was, but because they state issues, they are seen as trouble makers. I’m now one of them, I suppose.

Another issue that was concerning me were bugs with simple fixes. Europeans consistently use commas to separate dollars and cents. However, many transactions were processed incorrectly, due to the comma. A member would attempt to donate 21,50, and 2,150 would be charged. Then it’s up to the member to notice the error, since we did not mail out receipts. I attempted and notified the LT that we should fix this ASAP, but it didn’t take top priority.

Then there’s the issue where members were using other person’s credit cards and the cards were approved. Even though the names did not match. Changing the wording from “Name has been checked” to “Identity Checked” doesn’t quite cut it, in my opinion.

The push to hit up members within their first few hours of joining is an attempt to raise funds, not to make the system safer. Period. It’s for money. Sadly, I believe that the same amount of money could be raised by asking for a donation, simply and plainly… but you seem to not want to ask for funds to keep the service ad-free and running… but calling it ‘verification’ seems to rid you of the guilt in asking for funds.

So, with that, you have my ‘real’ reason for resigning. If you’d rather I not volunteer at all, I’ll understand. I still believe in the spirit and ideals of CouchSurfing and love meeting other surfers and hosts. I do not have to be a volunteer to do that. I will remain on to help other Ambassadors and community members.

I would like to train future ambassadors on how they can best serve the community, our fellow surfers and hosts. I also wish to remain on as a co-coordinator of the CUQs… again, to help my fellow members and ambassadors.

However, I leave that to you. Either way, I’m happy to not have the stress and pressures. I never could fill my predecessors shoes, and 3 replacements will have a difficult time in filling mine. But now that they are all “corporation volunteers” they will fall in line, or lose their ‘core volunteer’ status, not to mention their housing, food and travel expenses.

Casey, this is to you personally. I believe you have great ideas and a great site here. But I also believe that you have advisors who advise you incorrectly. I believe that they only have their best interests at heart. You have an LT member who actively gropes and fondles females… female volunteers, and female guests. Many, many times we lowly members and volunteers have heard of how he places his genitalia on other volunteers’ keyboards. Again, I am not a prude… I’m a sexually positive person and believe sex should be enjoyed — with a consensual partner! He gets away with it, but it will come back to bite you in the ass. He will grope the wrong person, and there will be a price to pay. Please do not be like the Catholic Church and shuffle this person off to a place where women are traditionally treated like material objects… where his gropes will be just as emotionally damaging, but where the objects of his unwanted advances will probably not speak out due to cultural issues. Don’t put a wolf in the chicken coop. You already have one ambassador within walking distance of CS who won’t speak out publicly about the things this person has done to her, and in her home. Is this really the best you can do to coordinate/energize your Ambassador corp?



Found at

Gardener / Landscaper


  • Creates beautiful outdoor spaces for the well-being of CS volunteers, personnel, and guests.


  • Create flower and vegetable gardens from scratch
  • Build any needed irrigation systems
  • Build bushes, vines, or related plant-based privacy screens
  • Establish house plants
  • Train residents how to maintain landscaping


  • Extensive knowledge of local weather and its effects on landscaping
  • Extensive knowledge of appropriate indoor and outdoor plants for various uses

Verification ticks on images

Today I noticed that a green tick now appears on the images of CouchSurfing members who have paid for verification. I notice these ticks on groups, I assume they’re all over the site. Wherever you see a thumbnail picture of a person, it marks who have paid and who have not.

This continues what Jim Stone started back in New Zealand all those years ago. A campaign to drive verification revenues ever higher. Given that you only need to pay once to become “verified”, CouchSurfing International Inc rely only on a continual stream of new members to make “donations”. If they can increase the percentage of people “donating”, more money for the coffers.

Perhaps we can subvert this new feature by framing our own profile pictures and adding a different symbol to donate that we opt out of the so-called “verification” system. We could even combine that with a real verification system based on the verification of actual identity and physical location. Food for thought… :-)