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Casey Fenton needs to stay

To clarify what OpenCouchSurfing is and isn’t and to give a more balanced view in our blog posts I’m writing this tiny blog post about why Casey Fenton needs to stay.

  • Casey might not be the most educated IT guru, but he’s definitely a guru and at this point he’s probably the only person capable of keeping the CouchSurfing website up and running.
  • The entire CS “Leadership Team” and Board of Directors consists of Casey’s friends. They would be quite clueless if Casey suddenly disappeared.
  • Casey is great. He might not have made the right decisions and I cannot agree with his attitude in many ways, but I am sure that I will feel happy if I will be able to give him a genuine hug again, maybe in 2009.

Still, even legally there is a problem with Casey in a paid position while being a member of the Board. And it would be totally useful if Casey’s ideas about transparency and volunteer participation would change a little bit. Though, also without it, with an estimated half a million US dollars coming in during year 2008 it’s unlikely that the ship will go down any time soon. And I am sincerely happy about that.

4 Responses to “Casey Fenton needs to stay”

  • Kasper,

    Although I admire your generous spirit, and your openness to reconciliation with Casey, I feel differently about the points you raised.

    1. CS is indeed highly dependent on Casey, but I believe that is by Casey’s own design, deliberately trying making himself indispensable to ensure his dominance. The fact that as a consequence CS is highly vulnerable to his potential departure (as was demonstrated by the crash of 2006) is of secondary importance to him.

    Nevertheless, I feel that there are so many highly skilled and generous members who could and would step in and take over the technical management of CS, if Casey did not take the code with him (as he did before), that after a transition period the site would become stable and less vulnerable than under Casey’s dominance.

    2. It is true that Casey has avoided appointing anyone who could replace him technically from being on the LT or BOD. Really the same point as #1.

    3. However one may feel about Casey as a person, in my book he’s not a straight shooter. That’s nothing unusual in the corporate world,
    but I can’t support him as a “visionary leader” of an organization devoted to inter-cultural understanding. Personally, after my experiences with Casey and his appointed elite, I no longer trusted them with my private data, and so left his website.

    Having made these points, I don’t necessarily disagree with the title of your post, nor do I oppose anyone who either makes use of the CS website or supports its success.

    I recently read about a guy who started a dating website. He developed and runs the operation entirely by himself, and pulls in more than $1,000 per day in revenues. A great success story, and the guy who did it deserves all the credit and reward. Casey could easily have accomplished something similar with CS, and few would have begrudged him his success, certainly not me. But for whatever reasons, he tried to do two inconsistent things: promote CS as a community-centered charitable project, and also a vehicle for his own personal ambitions.

    If CS had always been “The Casey Fenton Show” up-front, people could have chosen to be involved or not on that basis. Now that there’s no doubt that CS is “The Casey Fenton Show”, then of course, “Casey needs to stay”.

  • What I like (liked) about casey :-
    His hands off way of running the site drew all the seeker and free spirits to the site.He never meddled in the groups and posts (unlike the threats rachel and jim stone (on the wiki) keep making.)
    These guys just like his ex heather messed up couchsurfing and are still messing it up.
    His hands off attitude makes couchsurfing still better than hospitality club and bewelcome (still have a lot of HC baggage in the top management) (message checker, sign up checkers )this is what drove all the members from hc to cs.

    What i do not like about casey
    He keeps hiding behind his circle of cronies/attack dogs. Donia,rachel,jim stone,ttt(mattthew).And the second rung cronies mikky mouth,promi.
    He never answers post’s he started (kinda like a newbie).This is very insulting .
    He lets his PR team lie . (fixing the server in candle light).
    He is too american in his attitude (not the global free spirit) ( scared of thai locals)(cannot related to other locals from other countries)(burning man orgies)

  • - CS considers volunteers nothing but a fungible resource. there seems to be zero motivation to go route of embracing the skills of volunteers as longterm asset, after all, that would require sustainable relations and dialogue. the cs approach is not only unproductive but also morally not too shiny, conflicting with all the self proclaimed image

    - you will always have mediocre workers and leaders attempt to make themselves irreplaceable. it is rather proven though that anyone can be replaced, there is no indespensible worker. i have no doubt that casey as ceo could be replaced and someone with an average ability in management and development would already outperform casey within a month.

    casey not even has to go, he must go. it is pivotal in a social networking project to have a sound and accepted leadership. heck, if you take facebook, their ceo, mind you he made it to billionaire in under 3 years and apparently knows business, still goes on and blogs and communicates with the clusterfuck of facebook community whenever there is an issue, showing humility and engaging in debate about controversial issues.
    if a commercial project can do it, why cant cs, claiming to be all about the community and happyness? the answer is simple: leaders unfit for command can not engage in critical discourse with the memberbase, since their lack of arguments combined with lack of self esteem and self confidence gives them a rather humble position to start with, so they avoid it.

  • Matrixpoint, Daz, Zak0r, of course I agree with you as well (without disagreeing with my own post). I just hope it can clear up a little bit to people who stumble upon this blog and are shocked to see a post title “Casey Fenton needs to go”. (Or maybe they (you?) end up more confused, which is fine just as well.)

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