This site was archived on 24 April 2012. No new content can be posted. The mailing list remains online and the site will stay in this archived state for the forseeable future. If you find any technical errors on the site, please contact Callum.

2008 Q1 finances

“I hear servers and domain names are really expensive to maintain, and that some of the ones working on it, especially the full-time employees, are really hard-working, so deserve to be on a payroll. That fact is hard to disagree.. But at the same time, i wasn’t happy to hear that some especially coveted members in the core CS circle get their flight costs to get to the collective covered by the money raised from our donations. And that, just to get someone they really like having around to join them and be their private cook!”

Regarding finances, check for yourself, the finances of the first quarter of 2008 are available. Salaries are the biggest post on the expenses side. That doesn’t include flights and other costs of Collectives. Less than 10% of the income is used for servers and there was a surplus of almost 60.000 US$.

7220 • Salaries of Professional Staff
7250 • Payroll Taxes
7260 • Workers Comp
7515 • Bookkeeping Fees
7520 • Accounting Fees
7525 • Bank Service Fees 8,221.52
7530 • Legal Fees 9,867.59
7540 • Web/ Internet/ Host Fees 2,960.59
8110 • Office Expenses/ Supplies 3,195.01
8130 • Telephone & telecommunications 2,208.03
8140 • Postage, shipping, delivery 5,730.80
8160 • Equip rental & maintenance 13,923.46
8170 • Printing and Copying
8210 • Rent, Parking, and other occupancy
8215 • Building Repair and Maintenance
8220 • Utilities
8305 • Auto/ Fuel Expense
8310 • Travel 6,223.67
8320 • Meeting Expenses
8330 • Meals/ Groceries 10,895.37
8520 • Insurance – non employee
8540 • Staff Development 3,589.10

(note: meals and groceries were bought in Thailand!)

“I take it that back when CS was a more grassroots thing (correct me if i am wrong), all collective volunteers had to find their own way of getting to them. And that all the work was done pro-bono, even those who were working on improving CS on a full-time basis. In such a case, i wouldn’t think it’s fair that there are people on the payroll now, but those who helped cs in the initial startup days don’t get shit for all that they have contributed… “

CS never was very grassroots. PEople (like me) just tried to move it there. Casey has received a 2000 US$ per month salary ever since there was money coming in. It’s always been under control of Casey, and later Casey and his close friends.

I think paying some people is fine. Though, only people who are really needed, e.g. system administration to keep the site up 24/7, and further, let the community decide where their money is used. Whenever there’s a donation, add some checkboxes where you can give options where the money can go after the basics (administrative stuff, server costs, basic legal costs) have been covered (e.g. none, publicity, collectives, salaries for casey’s friends, food and lodging for groupies).

And don’t pay 2000 US$ per month plus expenses plus flights plus food and lodging. During a stay at a Collective it’s extremely easy to not spend more than 300 US$ per month…

Apart from the flights to and away from New Zealand (800 US$) I hitchhiked to the three CouchSrufing collectives I worked at. The laptop I bought to work on CS (1000 US$) broke quickly after I stopped volunteering, because of an extremely ridiculous non-disclosure agreement was “leaked” that does not allow working on any similar project (e.g. Wikitravel or other social networks).

BeWelcome will take time to grow. The BeVolunteer organization is already far ahead of anything else in hospex world in terms of flexibility, transparency and democracy. The software is about to follow. 3500 members is already a large pool of active people to connect with.

And note that BeWelcome now has (alpha stage) functionality where all members can verify members, for free. And it’s ID card or passport verification, not just address verification (which can very easily be falsified).

My idea about couchserfing was that it could be used as a vehicle to do much more than just hospitality exchange for college aged low-budget travelers. With so much money coming in and such a huge community behind it it would be extremely simple to set up much more sharing and society enhancing projects. E.g. a good friend of mine who also attended the New Zealand Collective is setting up If it would have been done from the inside of CS it would have been big by now. Though, on the other hand, I’m extremely happy that I didn’t accept Casey’s offer to host with CouchSurfing…

22 Responses to “2008 Q1 finances”

  • kasper, you are wrong. the it costs are split, they total to 17k $, item 8160 is also part of it.

  • Total Expense 97,166.73 wow almost 100,000 $ nice . Dont worry Alaska will be WAY over that!!.

    8330 • Meals/ Groceries expenses (990 line 40)
    This is the cost of all expenses spent on food while at a collective or staff meeting
    8330 • Meals/ Groceries 10,895.37

    How much of this was alcohol and other 420 friendly goodies?

    Moved to Emergency Fund (see notes)
    Moved to Emergency Fund (see notes)

    Notice the decrease in the surplus.

    Can some one make a wiki page of the finances never know when they ma y decided to hide it .
    There are SO MANY slackers and moochers at the collective shnorrer ,freeloaders like the DJ cam .I don’t blame them Free tickets ,Free Food,Free ALCOHOL Bucket what more do you need?

  • @pickard: no CS money is spent on alcohol. Not now, not in Thailand. There is a very strict policy that CS pays for normal every day use goods, but will never pay for alcohol or “luxury goods”. Don’t try to spread rumors about things you have no idea about, itdoesn’t increase your credibility at all.

  • Ok walter . To increase YOUR credibility can you post the break up of 8330 • Meals/ Groceries 10,895.37

    If you dont have it then you are just talking for the sake of talking.

    What counts is figures.
    10,000 $ dollars in thailand on food!! :)

  • CS money is not directly spent on alcohol (or other drugs) but 2000 dollars per month (and all food, travel and lodging expenses covered) leaves quite some money for those luxury goods.

  • I agree that it is a lot of money, but i am 100% sure that it was not spent on alcohol. The policy on that is very clear!

  • Yep Walter is right. Even for events the cs collective organised during collectives we have to pay for all our alcohol and the alcohol we provide for our guests!

    @pickard: omg 10,000 $ dollars in thailand on food!!
    let me do the math for you: 10.000 / 30 (days) / 3,5 (months) / 20 (people) = 4.8 dollars per person per day. Thats seems verrrry cheap.
    one day includes breakfast lunch dinner :)
    Now that I see the numbers I’m actually not surprised I was complaining about the food :p

    I hope you are ok with the fact we get some good food and something to drink for volunteering 10h a day / 6 days a week.

  • let me do the math for you: 10.000 / 30 (days) / 3,5 (months) / 20 (people)

    Let us see the other math

    how many people have to contribute to the cs cause to gain FREE food for 20 SLACKERS.

    10,000/25$ = 400 members had to contribute 25 $ to get free food to 20 Slackers !! Who were selected by casey to USE up all the money (NOT TO MAKE CS BETTER)

  • Isn’t constructive criticism a great thing? ;)

  • When there is NO COMMUNICATION there can nothing !!


    What were you guys doing?

    When was the LAST TIME casey posted on the site?

    When was the LAST TIME mattthew the GENERAL MANAGER updated his blog?

    What do you expect walter?

    There is never any communication.


    Maybe there would be constructive criticism if we find you really can get things done .

  • There are 1000+ ambassadors selected by Mikky Mouth.

    What are they doing?
    Planning a BIG PARTY for what exactly?
    The website anniversary? Couchsurfing day
    What about a good Friday for the day of the crash?
    Day of sadness for the day couchsurfing was no more and the shunyatra letter.

    OCS asks more questions than ALL the 1000+ Ambassadors
    Doesn’t that say something?
    Doesn’t that show how they were selected?

    I mean if the UN managers are not really helping the world . Would the ambassadors of different countries speak up?

    constructive criticism about the Thailand report
    Humm how many people had to hassle Mandie to really get all the slacker to say what they had done?
    What did the report show?

    Maybe if people stopped cooking the books OR if they are not cooking the books maybe really explain how the server cost is so high.

    It would set the bar higher than petty questions and more constructive criticism.

  • CYRILG explanation of the server cost on the community communication group .

    I would estimate this to be handled by a bare minimum of 5 people in shifts and rotations. If you set an average salary of $4,000 per month per sysadmin, you could be looking at $20,000 a month, or $240,000 per year.

    If you stack on top of this the cost of redundant fiber optic connections to internet backbones, AC cooling, security, rent, and the purchasing of the servers themselves; it becomes easier to see why hosting with a 3rd party is a much more affordable solution for CS.

    walter heck adds

    In addition to this, I can tell you that CS is not a website that runs on two or three servers. At the moment we have around 25 servers running our whole server park. 5600/25 is not that much for colocated hosting :)

    server park humm. Maybe we need to map all the server again. Find out where they are located and how much each of the service providers charge. So 5 has gone up to 25 wow .

  • Pickard,

    What is your ultimate goal? If you are really smart, you would have checked where the servers are now.

    Yes, there is a server-park, and while my opinion is that the servers are quite expensive, they do work. You can get them more cheaply, but currently CS-Techteam might not implement such big changes.

    And no, the sysadmins aren’t payed. I’ve been offered a job as sysadmin, but refused because of the salary (that isn’t $4000 but $1000, not enough to pay the bills).

  • @Diederik
    The ultimate goal is transparency.

    Where no one needs to ask stupid questions when all the answers could just be communicated to everyone easily.

    What is the big secret to hide all the info? something or nothing.

    If there is nothing more to hide then why do people have to work really hard to find answers ?

    $4,000 per month per sysadmin
    Wonder where they pay this dough

  • @ Diederik do you think the system errors is due to the server or people updating the code on the live server (like in the old days).

  • $4,000 per month per sysadmin
    Wonder where they pay this dough

    SYSADMINS DON’T GET PAYED… And regarding the downtimes, AFAIK the database can’t handle the concurrent connections, but since I am no longer involved in the sysadmin-team, I don’t know all the gory details…

  • When there was talk about paying people I suggested that the only people that should get paid are sysadmins. Most work can be done in a self-organized fashion, and volunteers can work on whatever whenever they want, but system administration requires 24/7 availability.

    Of course it makes sense to pay your buddies and give them titles like “volunteer coordinator” or “general manager” just to keep the CouchSurfing community from self-organizing.

  • @Diederik
    I agree with Kasper that it’s precisely the sysadmins that should be payed and that should be – by far – the most professional and experienced people in the CS crew. Obviously, neither is the case.

    The database problems are old old old. It has always been under strain, because of bad algorithm and table design, bad migration choices and complete inexperience with DB redundancy. It could have been addressed properly years (no, really, years) ago, if only Casey wasn’t too proud to let real professionals correct “his design”.

    CS *is* essentially the site and “CS management” simply fails to take good enough care of it to keep it running consistently.

  • Thomas, Kasper, I can’t agree with you more.

  • anyone of you care for some more tea or cookies? You old ladies still bitching about “the old old old days”.

    You know exactly what we spend and what we are working on. What more do you want? You want to know how much time I spend in the shower today? What food we got yesterday? How much time I lost with reading the ocs website?

  • @Diederik: Can you explain why you disagree?

    @Doogy: Forget you/we, us/them. Instead, let’s phrase it like this:

    The public can see how much money is spent on specific book keeping numbers. Recently the public has been getting a little bit more insight in what CouchSurfing is working on. The public is probably with this increased transparency, but on other parts there is still quite a lack of information: what is the status of the members of the Board (who are not eligible to receive a salary according to NH non-profit law) and what is the progress with relation to the 501c3 status?

  • @Diederik: Can you explain why you disagree?

    Err, I guess that my English isn’t that good ;) . I mean that I fully agree with both of you. Iets met ik kan het niet meer met jullie eens zijn ;)

Comments are currently closed.