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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.

6 Responses to “The Casey Fenton Show”

  • Looks like they need to catch up on their filings. Not sure about NH, but we have to file an annual statement or face fines in California.

    I like the link to the bylaws page, it brings up the point of Transparency… something we need more of.

  • “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”.”

    Besides myself, I know that some of the volunteers who have participated in CS are interested in a greater field of human activity than the hospitality community alone, but saw CS as a microcosm of the global community, a place to get our feet wet, so to speak; a place to learn about the issues confronting the human race as a whole. I can say it was a real education for me. Although relatively little has been proven at this point, I sense the possibility of corruption, enough to raise grave suspicions. This is part of the learning process for me: how to recognize and respond to potential corruption. Better yet, how to prevent it.

    In doing some research, I found this very illuminating abstract of an article that is unfortunately available only as pay-per-view:

    Human Relations, Vol. 58, No. 6, 723-740 (2005)
    DOI: 10.1177/0018726705057160
    © 2005 The Tavistock Institute
    The corrupt organization
    David P. Levine

    Graduate School of International Studies at the University of Denver,

    This article explores the psychic meaning of corruption understood as an attack on norms of conduct in organizations. The primary focus is on why individuals fail to become securely attached to norms, and on the part played in this failure by certain key features of corruption: greed, arrogance, a sense of personal entitlement, the idea of virtue as personal loyalty, and the inability to distinguish between organizational and personal ends. The essay considers the moral dimension of the problem and suggests that conduct normally interpreted as corrupt often expresses a powerful attachment to primitive moral thinking rather than a rejection of morality.

    Key Words: corruption • Enron • ethics • greed • organizations • psychodynamics

    I was especially struck by some of the phrases used, which eerily resonate with my observations of the unaccountable CS management. But most unexpected was the researcher’s thesis that corruption does not necessarily imply immorality, but rather a primitive morality.

    Corrupt organizations can believe themselves to be highly moral. In CS, for example, the LT has determined themselves to be trustworthy and virtuous enough to have access to ordinary member’s personal data, and they really believe that.

    I heard that after the crash, when all vouching records had been lost, that the plan was for Casey Fenton to originate new vouching. i.e., all vouches must ultimately be traced to him, as if he, personally, was the source of virtue itself. This plan was shelved, I was told, when someone with legal knowledge warned that Casey might be held liable for a crime committed by a vouched person.

    Whether what has gone on in CS can properly be called corruption or not, some very disturbing things have indeed happened. Let’s hope that we can all learn to recognize and take steps to prevent the breeding grounds of corruption: secrecy, unaccountability, concentrated power in the hands of a few, excessive reverence for individual human beings, and willingness to transfer personal moral authority to external authority figures. We all need to keep each other honest.


  • To emphasize the main point:

    All of us, just by being human, are vulnerable to corruption, especially those of us who think ourselves beyond corruption by virtue of what we believe to be our superior morality. It is wise to build checks and balances into any organization, with no exemptions, and to encourage “almost promiscuous transparency”, and to warmly solicit constructive criticism and independent review.

    Even if I was truly invulnerable to corruption, I may someday become the target of someone who wants something I can give and threatens harm to someone I care about to get it. So, having an independent check on me actually protects me and those I care about. Accountability is practical as well as ethical.


  • @Ben: I read somewhere on CS (groups maybe) that NH has pretty slack filing requirements. I think it might have been every 5 years even. I’m not sure, but I remember reading that it was a long time between required filings anyway. I thought at the time that it was interesting Casey chose to incorporate in that state.

    Please note: This is a recollection and may be fallacy of my imagination / memory!

  • matrixpoint said: I heard that after the crash, when all vouching records had been lost, that the plan was for Casey Fenton to originate new vouching. i.e., all vouches must ultimately be traced to him, as if he, personally, was the source of virtue itself.

    John, that’s fascinating. That phrase really struck a chord with me. I’ve always been uncomfortable with vouching as I believe it originated from a small few if not from Casey himself. The phrase “as if [snip] was the source of virtue itself” puts that into words wonderfully.

  • It’s as John said, I’ve heard Casey on this too. What ended up happening then is that the rest of the “core people” ie. present or future admins at the collective around the first part of August 2006 were vouched for by the Couchsurfing Collective profile, as I recall it to be. The vouches were then spread through to the rest of the community via the connections of those vouched first.

    The requirement of 3 vouches prior to being able to vouch for others lead to a situation where eg. my sister back in Finland only receiving her 3rd a couple of months back, after being a member for two years and hosting and meeting many people during this time.

    The vouching system also changed at that time, so instead of one vouch you could receive several, and the count was to be used in trust-assesment for future tasks such as the Ambassador system.

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