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Archive for the 'Board of Directors' Category

Casey attempts to sell Groups posts to Google, members protest en masse

If he was any more blatantly deceitful, we’d have to call him Zuckerberg! Step right up trusting travelers, and watch how Casey Fenton attempts to sell all your old (and current, and future) Groups posts for profit!

And if not for cash, then surely for the added marketing value (worth real money, and lots of it), to allow Google and every other web site and search engine to add what you thought you were sharing with only fellow CS-members, to their fully public, permanent record that is the global internet.

All the personal trip and traveler feedback you thought you were sharing only with other CS members? Sorry, surprise, now everything you posted on CS is part of the public record, forever. And, perfectly searchable.

I realize Casey’s announcement(s) have mostly to do with Groups posts, but isn’t he trying to put into place the exact same kind of exposure and sale of all your information, including your profile? Your profile picture? Isn’t he playing the exact same kind of despicable game that Zuckerberg plays?

Make no mistake about what Casey is attempting to do, exactly like Zuckerberg/Facebook – blatantly deceive you, to gain your trust and persuade you to add to his mountainous pile of traveler feedback, then once he has your trust (and your posts and personal information) he sells everyone’s posted information to enrich himself, personally.

This has been his goal since the inception of the entire CS project, he just didn’t have any buyers yet. Until now. Until Facebook became the story to copy. Until he invested considerable effort in building the largest list of users he could accumulate, to ensure the biggest pay-day he could arrange for himself.

I’ve noticed that despite several fundamental issues which members have complained about for literally years, that are never even acknowledged… in all this time, the most visible efforts seen from the inner circle and their hiring decisions, seemed to always be about PR (public relations), suppressing the publication of complaints, outright denial of reality, and spreading the gospel. To grow the list of users. To fatten the calf before the slaughter.

In classic Cult-of-Casey style, he sells you out without a warning or your consent, but when the backlash proves substantial and it turns out that people don’t want any part of what Casey’s selling, he tries to spin his scheme as something that he only intended in the best of ways, something to help you!

I don’t know which kind of people I despise more strongly – users, or liars. Let alone a career scam-artist highly skilled in both exploiting and lying to people. But the recent investors want the maximum return on their investment, so just as others have predicted… let the sale (of information you donated in good faith) begin!
Fresh email from HQ, just received, sent to all CS “members.” Stare into the face of pure exploitation and bald-faced lies:

“We’ve heard you: Change to plans regarding groups”
Dear CouchSurfers,

Last week, we sent an email in which we announced our plan to make CS groups available to search. We made this decision because the team had received member complaints that some newer members of the site didn’t seem to be joining for the right reasons. We thought that allowing people to see more of what CS is about before they join might help address this problem.

The members disagreed! We’ve heard from hundreds of people who are very opposed to this approach. I’m very sorry to have caused so much distress. It’s clear that this is something that members care deeply about, and I respect the need to approach it differently.

We have made two major changes to our plan:

Group posts created in the past will not be available to search. The only posts that will be visible to search engines will be those created after February 15, 2012. This will protect the privacy of any members who no longer use the site and may not be aware of the changes.

All members will have the option to keep all of their posts hidden from search and from non-members. Just as we currently allow you to keep your profile hidden from anyone who is not logged in, we are now building another privacy option that will allow you to easily specify that your group posts should not be visible to search engines or people who are not logged in. This privacy option will apply to all of your posts, both past and future.

These two factors combined mean that the only posts that will be visible to search will be those made in the future by people who choose not to make their participation in groups private.

I sincerely hope that this approach will protect the privacy needs of all CouchSurfing members while also giving people who are considering joining CS an accurate impression of who we are – a community, not a place to find a free place to crash.

If you still have concerns about this, I invite you to email me at and share your thoughts. The team makes all of its decisions with the intention of making CS better for its members. It seems that this time the change we wanted to make would actually have made it worse, and for that I’m sincerely sorry. I’m glad that you responded with your concerns: your reactions helped us see various sides of the issue that we had not considered. I know that CS groups are considered to be a safe and comfortable place to express yourself fully, and I would never want that to change.

Thank you for your patience and for your passion,

Casey Fenton
Co-Founder, CouchSurfing International

Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors

Last night I was skimming through a book about fundraising. I was surprised to see that members of the Board of Directors are tacitly supposed to give to the charity. So I googled a bit and found this Checklist to Evaluate a Nonprofit Board of Directors (courtesy of Greater Twin Cities United Way).

It’s hard to assess in how far the CouchSurfing Board is meeting these requirements, apart from 4 (recommended) and 15 (essential): all 5 members of the board have American citizenship, are living in California, are in their thirties, there is one female member and 3 out of 5 are receiving a salary.

Most of the other points don’t seem to be available for public scrutiny (at this point it’s even unclear to me if there are any bylaws).  It would be nice if there were a bit more clarity about this charity.

Indicator Met Needs
E 1. The roles of the Board and the Executive Director are defined and respected, with the Executive Director delegated as the manager of the organization’s operations and the board focused on policy and planning
R 2. The Executive Director is recruited, selected, and employed by the Board of Directors. The board provide clearly written expectations and qualifications for the position, as well as reasonable compensation.
R 3. The Board of Directors acts a governing trustees of the organization on behalf of the community at large and contributors while carrying out the organization’s mission and goals. To fully meet this goal, the Board of Directors must actively participate in the planning process as outlined in planning sections of this checklist.
R 4. The board’s nominating process ensures that the board remains appropriately diverse with respect to gender, ethnicity, culture, economic status, disabilities, and skills and/or expertise. NO
E 5. The board members receive regular training and information about their responsibilities.
E 6. New board members are oriented to the organization, including the organization’s mission, bylaws, policies, and programs, as well as their roles and responsibilities as board members.
A 7. Board organization is documented with a description of the board and board committee responsibilities.
A 8. Each board has a board operations manual.
E 9. If the organization has any related party transactions between board members or their family, they are disclosed to the board of directors, the Internal Revenue Service and the auditor.
E 10. The organization has at least the minimum number of members on the Board of Directors as required by their bylaws or state statute.
R 11. If the organization has adopted bylaws, they conform to state statute and have been reviewed by legal counsel.
R 12. The bylaws should include: a) how and when notices for board meetings are made; b) how members are elected/appointed by the board; c) what the terms of office are for officers/members; d) how board members are rotated; e) how ineffective board members are removed from the board; f) a stated number of board members to make up a quorum which is required for all policy decisions.
R 13. The board of directors reviews the bylaws.
A 14. The board has a process for handling urgent matters between meetings.
E 15. Board members serve without payment unless the agency has a policy identifying reimbursable out-of-pocket expenses. NO
R 16. The organization maintains a conflict-of-interest policy and all board members and executive staff review and/or sign to acknowledge and comply with the policy.
R 17. The board has an annual calendar of meetings. The board also has an attendance policy such that a quorum of the organization’s board meets at least quarterly.
A 18. Meetings have written agendas and materials relating to significant decisions are given to the board in advance of the meeting.
A 19. The board has a written policy prohibiting employees and members of employees’ immediate families from serving as board chair or treasurer.
Indicators ratings: E=essential; R=recommended; A=additional to strengthen organizational activities

Impressions of the CS Thailand achievements

To be honest, the list of CSCT achievements confused the hell out of me. Instead of a report on which objectives were achieved through which actions, it’s a huge list of “stuff that we’ve done”. How does all this relate to any kind of overall plan? Was there even a plan?

This is not a report, this is a “shut the fuck up” list. What this list tells me is: “LOOK! We’ve done A LOT! Leave us alone!” Doogies (a CSCT participant) sums it up best in one of his comments on this site:

You wanted to know everything we did in Thailand so you get a document with more than 500 achievements we accomplished there for couchsurfing.

More than 500 achievements! Wow! Unfortunately, I find it clearly symptomatic of a miserable professional result. I’ve seen this approach before: Whenever a large project failure had to be covered up. Been there, done that myself. It’s a sleight of hand technique: By pointing at a huge, unreadable and almost entirely unverifiable list of statements, they are hoping to hoodwink the CS donation base that all that money is serving a purpose and probably to fool themselves in the process. The person responsible for this style of writing is Mandie, showing us again how incompetent she is at what she does. Hold this report up to the standard of any serious non-profit organization and it just becomes sad. This is not a report, it’s a hastily thrown together list of things people could still remember doing.

There is plenty to learn from the report though. In general, it appears that the largest part of the participants has been busy analyzing and communicating. Also, tech has been very busy, probably the most productive team overall (this has always been the case in CS). If anyone seems to have done anything, it’s clearly the programmers. We’ll see how well it all holds up in the summer.

Things that I noticed right away:

  • Jim Stone is a scary control freak, which we already knew from the way he bullied everyone in the CS Wiki. Look at what occupies him:
    • ” A reminder system to let people know they should update any reference that has been identified as violating our terms of use.”
    • “References are no longer completely deleted when removed, just hidden for safety concerns. We also know who deleted it, what the reference said, and when it was deleted.”
    • “Deleted Images: The safety team can easily delete images from accounts that are deemed inappropriate. The member is also emailed to let them know with instructions on what they can do next.”
    • “Refined a tool that more easily identifies real spammers and harmful users and doesn’t temporarily falsely identify members as being spammers as often now.”
    • “Deleted posts: every post that’s been deleted, why it was deleted, who did it, when, and ability to reactivate it with one click.” (I’d love to see this list of “whys” sometime.)
  • Rachel is a one-stop CS police force: “Directly handled several member disputes.” She obviously doesn’t need to report to anyone, because obviously every communication is an achievement and a report of Rachel’s activities simply isn’t listed.
  • Speaking of communication, Mandie thinks this is an achievement: “Email to ambassadors explaining website downtime.” My god. An email. The “report” is full of nonsense entries like that.

But all that is just fun and games. It clearly wasn’t edited anymore than the average OCS post (this says enough), providing hours of entertainment. Meetings are NOT achievements, neither are writing emails, calling people or “Finding a suitable caterer and arranging for daily delivery of food.” (Obviously nobody felt like cooking in a country with such a low wage scale.) Who cares about the “bi-weekly shopping trip”? Or what about ” Administered half-way point evaluation meeting with House Manger.”? That one was from Matthew Brauer, who has a truly sad list of achievements and still can’t spell his name right. (What the hell is it with using nicknames in an “official” report anyway?)

But what is really interesting is what is missing:

  • Where is all this generated material being kept? Things like “plan for Alaska Collective including budget, roles, objective and location”, “desired skills sets for volunteers in team”, “‘Core concepts’ to help uncover and articulate what CouchSurfing is about, not about, what its mission is.”, etc etc. The server team doesn’t mention installing a document repository and the Wiki has been shot down Jim Stone style. So, unless I’m mistaken (no way to verify unless Doogie could come out his tower to enlighten us), all these wonderful documents either don’t exist or are sitting in someones harddrive or mailbox. Either way, that will mean 90% of “work done” will be tossed away again for the next collective, like it has happened 2 times already. Remember the huge “organizational chart” that was created before CSCNZ? Exactly. CS management = the way of the Dodo.
  • There is absolutely NO mention of 501c3 status. None. Let me repeat that: the entire 501c3 process is completely absent from this report, even though it was in quite a few announcements. What happened guys? Didn’t you work on it or is it not an achievement? Or maybe, perhaps, it was a miserable failure?
  • There is not one mention of drafting contracts and exactly one reference to legal work:
    “Phased out one-on-one verification on the advice of our legal team: verification now only available through credit card or a verified PayPal account.”
    Right, so all those expenses towards the CS lawyer(s), 14,234$ in 2007, have only resulted in another way to increase profits? It appears nobody had a contract or even insurance (only travel insurance is mentioned), since none of that is mentioned. (Search for: “legal”, “contract” and “insurance”.)
  • What the hell is going on with Casey Fenton (who also doesn’t need a last name)? Why doesn’t he have his own personal achievements, like his buddies Matthew or Jim? Why is he mentioned in second place of a team twice? My guess is that they are trying to shield Casey from direct comments on his behind-the-scenes style of control. Who are they kidding? Where has the “leadership team” gone? Where are the board meetings? Who is on the board anyway? Of course, it’s also possible Casey couldn’t be bothered to write down his list of “achievements” and/or Mandie didn’t dare to ask him.
  • Did you know CS has a new team in charge? Neither did I. This time, it’s simply called “CouchSurfing Management” and guess who’s in it? Matthew, Casey, Jim and Weston (member since April 15th, 2007). Congratulations guys, you have finally managed to create your little Northern American boys club.

What else do you see missing from the report? What do you think is the funniest “achievement”?

Casey Fenton needs to go.

Disclaimer: I am not OCS, if the OCS doesn’t like me utilizing their venue, I can perfectly understand them removing this, so go ahead Callum or whoever runs this site ;)

That title works to grab everyones attention. Hello there lazy bums in Thailand, celebrating ineptitude under the sun!

I was thinking how all the work of the motivated volunteers full of ideals and good intention can be saved. The title was my only answer. One thing i have learned is that people dont really change, i dont expect Casey or the majority of his buddies to be different, despite all the visionary leadership.

Why do I point out that people don’t change? Because I am convinced that they would have to change if Couchsurfing is supposed to progress. Couchsurfing as a website and Organization has grown beyond the size that is governable with the attitude and management employed by Casey and his appointed BurningManBeer Buddies. We are dealing with an Organization that is crooked and mismanaged from the Top. Casey might be a nice guy, he might be a good coder, he might even have that MC1R sexyness to get all the good bitches in the pack, but he is about as good as a manager as Paris Hilton is an expert on Quantum Mechanics.

From the Top down, it was all about happiness and fun, NEVER about accountability and results. Casey initially, when first launching public, already made a claim on how cs is a 501c3 non profit. He either made a false claim, which would make him a liar and crooked person, possibly a felon, since he collected the donations, or an amazingly inept manager. You don’t run an Organization without knowing its legal status, dot! I tend to go with a third option though. He is a hopeless dreamer, who wants to make a 501c3 and heal the world, but gets ahead of reality way too much. This pattern was followed in the whole CS team and Spirit of Organization. Sure, it would be great to have a good manager, but lets settle for someone who COULD be a good manager, such as TTT, but who actually sucks ass since he settles for having a manager title, rather than doing the job, just like Casey and 501c3. On CS, the culture of Vaporware needs to go. The people will not change, so unless they go, Cs will never proceed beyond the Fratboys who would LOVE to be cool, but end up being drunk failures.

They ALL lack the self confidence to critically reflect upon their managerial skills or the apparent lack of. The root of all this is of course, Casey. He appointed Managers who lack the wit and gut to debate with a dissenting community. A dissenting community that actually argues constructively and is kind enough to share all the solutions.

CS, thanks to the pressure built up by Pickwick, is about to arrive in the cloud of Accountability that is the real world. I hereby Claim that there will be no milestone accomplishment at the Thai Collective, which will make it nothing more than an expensive party for Casey and his equally inept cronies.

You run an Organization and fail to deliver, you go. If is all about buying Caseys’ Burning Man crew 4 Months of sponsored Holidays on the beach along with pussy that would not be available to this elusive group of mediocre men, then is indeed a brilliant success for aforementioned visionary leader and his associates. It would of course make it a racket and scam, morally at least, regardless of how it would be judged by a legal professional.

If Couchsurfing is not a racket and scam but instead an organization with genuinely good intentions, then it is a failure on all accounts. Absolute top-performing professionals in their respective field get alienated or sacked by a management that has possibly not even learned how to spell (project) management. The Couchsurfing Management in its current incarnation is a direct result of Casey Fentons inability to accept superior skill from employees and volunteers. The current management has a track record of rejecting highly skilled employees and outside advice, lacks skill and self confidence along with the inability to accomplish anything themselves.

You guys all need to go. I am glad CS is in the Real World SOON, legally speaking. Casey and friends, you guys talk all the talk, all the time. I have yet to see anyone walk the walk. I invite you to prove me wrong, but you and me, we both know, you fail.

p.s. i invite everyone to personally attack me on my position, preferably somewhere in real life

p.p.s please, since i am so full of shit, be so kind and make a list of all the accomplished managerial successes of the current leadership team, since thats all that it takes to turn my whole posting into a pile of shit. hint: most mangers work 45-50h a week and deliver results correlating to this

Pickwick: money no valid argument for unhealthy growth pattern

About limiting the acceptance of new members Pickwick writes

Kasper: “major source of income”

Is that income needed? Surely a much smaller stream of new members, recruited in a better way, could raise the moderate amounts necessary to pay server costs, paper clips and a few postage stamps.

Current spending is mostly for
A) salaries, and I think we had much better quality work from the volunteers “no longer retained”;
B) the exodus to Thailand, and I have yet to see any actual WORK mentioned that was done there in the 31 days of December (other than picking the place for January).

So the money seems to benefit those who make the decisions. Thankfully we are a charity now and published accounts have to be more accurate and more detailed than hitherto. Which reminds me that there are still areas of concern regarding the charitable status:

1. The financial statements online are still not identical with the ones filed with the US tax authorities and the New Hampshire charities regulators.

2. Casey may have perjured himself by stating falsely to the Attorney General that from 2003 to 2006 the company had several directors besides himself. The major reason for that could be that the truth may affect the legality of his own employment.

a) New Hampshire law requires a minimum of five directors, so with Casey as sole director the company had no legally composed Board of Directors. For that reason alone contracts entered into during that time may be invalid, including the employment contract he made with himself.

b) Casey as sole director signed his own employment contract on the dotted lines of both sides of the contract. There could not be a more blatant violation of all ‘conflict of interest’ principles, and for that reason alone this contract may be invalid.

c) New Hampshire law does not allow the chairman/president of a charity to be an employee at the same time. So when Casey as chairman/president signed his own employment contract he violated that law, and for this reason alone the contract may be invalid.

d) If Casey’s employment contract is invalid, he will have received his salaries without legal grounds, and may have to pay ~$70,000 back to the company. (That, and the other ~$70,000 of accumulated profits in the bank should keep CouchSurfing going for a good many years to come, as a volunteer based charity, without ill prepared world trips for the management.)

At the New Hampshire Department of Justice the case has been queued for review by an investigator in early 2008. My advice to the new Board of Directors is: sort it out before they start asking questions.

To sum up: I don’t think money is a valid argument to continue this unhealthy growth pattern.

Pickwick: “Casey: please don’t risk perjury”

Another interesting Pickwick post in Brainstorm:
1. Casey, you listed yourself as sole director in a report you filed with the New Hampshire Secretary of State on 24th December 2005 [1]. You again stated publicly on 28th January 2007 that you were still sole director [2]. This violated New Hampshire statute RSA 292:6-a according to which “the board of directors of a charitable nonprofit corporation shall have at least 5 voting members” [3].

On 14th November 2007 you eventually filed Annual Reports for the years 2003, 2004, 2005 and 2006 with the Attorney General of New Hampshire, where under penalties of perjury you falsely stated the composition of the Board of Directors in 2004, 2005 and 2006 to be: Casey Fenton, Daniel M Hoffer, Leonardo Silveira, Sebastien G LeTuan.

My advice is to file a correction immediately. An investigation for perjury in connection with filed Annual Reports may have unfortunate consequences for the application for federal tax exempt status according to section 501(c)(3) IRS code.

2. New Hampshire statute also says in RSA 292:6-a that “No employee of a charitable nonprofit corporation shall hold the position of chairperson or presiding officer of the board” [3]. This means, Casey, that you need to resign either your chairmanship of the board, or your employment.

My advice is to do it immediately. An unlawful composition of the board or unlawful tenure of the board’s chairman can have unfortunate consequences for the validity of board decisions or signatures on documents, like for instance the application for federal tax exempt status according to section 501(c)(3) IRS Code.


What do the LT actually do?

We used to get the excuse “Casey is too busy”. Now we get the excuse “The LT is too busy“. This begs the question, too busy doing what?

CouchSurfing now has 4 full time, paid members of staff. That’s a 300% increase in professional resources within the organisation. What exactly are all these professionals doing?

Here’s a few things they’re not doing which they could be doing.

  • Publishing finances, up to the minute (it’s really not hard)
  • Getting 501(c)(3) status (again, really not hard)
  • Publishing LT meeting minutes (extremely easy)
  • Getting a new NDA sorted (seriously, it doesn’t take 15 months)

Perhaps they’re too busy partying, having threesomes, burning da man, banning people from the wiki, spreading the verification disease, etc. Who knows eh? ;-)

The Casey Fenton Show

In 2005 CouchSurfing was a business entity in the US state of New Hampshire, that’s for sure. You can even find the annual report of 2005 there to see that the Board of Directors consisted of Casey Fenton, and that the president of the organization was Casey Fenton. The treasurer was Casey Fenton, and last, but not least, the secretary was, you might have guessed it… Casey Fenton. This might have changed in the meanwhile.

So, what is the current status? Why hasn’t there been an annual report of 2006? As of this day, is there more variation in the official positions of CouchSurfing International Inc.? We were informed that Dan and Seb are members of the board now, but before January 2007, when Casey announced that he was the only member of the Board, many people thought that all 4 Founders were on the Board. Or not? We can’t know, since…

Last Annual Report Filed Date: 12/24/2005
Last Annual Report Filed: 2005

More burning questions:

  • Why did CS  (or rather Casey) pretend to be a 501(c)(3)?
  • Are there bylaws? And if so, what do they look like?
  • How can we get more insight in the situation? Is it possible to get informed about organization at US government instances, e.g. the IRS, or the N.H. Dept. of Revenue Administration?
  • And why is there not more public information?

With the nauseating smell of deception all around, it’s probably about time for Casey Fenton to start thinking about disclosing some more of “the facts”.
Disclaimer: Do not believe everything you read here. But do check out the links.

CS Chief Financial Officer since April 2006


So, you might have heard about Mr Whatley because of his amazing NDA writing skills. I just found out on the social business network that he’s actually been CouchSurfing’s Chief Financial Officer since April 2006. Note that this must have been updated fairly recently, with “over 200,000 members and growing strong”. Note that there is no mention of a Chief Financial Officer on

Matthew T. Whatley, Esq.

Owner, The Law Offices of Matthew T. Whatley

  • Chief Financial Officer at Couchsurfing International, Inc.
  • Owner at The Law Offices of Matthew T. Whatley (Sole Proprietorship)
  • Owner at Ninja Tax Services (Sole Proprietorship)
  • Mahawithayalai Mahidol

  • Golden Gate University, School of Law

  • Carnegie Mellon University

  • Keio Gijuku Daigaku


41 connections

Law Practice
Public Profile


I am an entrepreneur at heart and love helping others found and grow their own small businesses. I am interested in taking on new clients and founding relationships with other attorneys. I primarily serve the Arts and Small Business communities. I would say the majority of my clients go to Burning Man every year.



Personal and Small Business Income Tax Preparation and Minimization, Business Planning, International Business Contracts, Sarbanes-Oxley Auditing, Offshore Asset Protection, Personal Injury Law


Chief Financial Officer

Couchsurfing International, Inc.

(Non-Profit; 11-50 employees; Non-Profit Organization Management industry)

April 2006 – Present (1 year 3 months)
Profile Name: Matt
With over 200,000 members and growing strong, Couchsurfing allows people to host or be hosted in over 100 different countries throughout the globe thus sponsoring cultural exchange and creating a world wide community of travelers.
I manage the finances.

The horror! The horror!

The fun never stops:

  • The proposed Volunteer Agreement in all its paranoid glory. Read it and weep.
  • Appearantly the tax ninja that wrote it* is on the Board of directors! Who knew? (Hint: noone.)
  • We’re also keeping track of everyone that quit or will never start developing for CS because of this fiasco.

That’s all for today.

*: Or copied it from here. CS really seems to have problems writing original text. Maybe they need a copywriter to volunteer for that?