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Sunsetting OpenCS

Friends, it’s time to move on.

CouchSurfing International Inc is now a for-profit business. It’s a shame, it had such incredible potential to become a truly democratic, inclusive, open platform. But it’s not. It’s a venture capital funded business. We all know how it got there, but that’s where it is. The dreams of an open and free CouchSurfing are now dead.

Let’s recognise that and move on with our lives. BeWelcome is the only viable alternative. So I say we archive the OpenCS site with a message telling freedom lovers to visit BeWelcome for open-source, democratic hospitality exchange.

In the spirit of do-ocracy, I will action this after 1 March unless I hear strong objections before then. That gives us a month to say our goodbyes, write our memoirs, and so on.

CouchSurfing has always been, and is now honest about being, a corporation.

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

Tougher registration settings

I receive an email every time somebody registers on this site. Most of the registrations I see are nonsense. So today I’ve tightened up the registration options, changed the math question to a CAPTCHA and required users to activate their accounts by clicking a link sent to them by email. Hopefully that will reduce the rogue registrations somewhat.

Interestingly, I haven’t see any spam from the nonsense accounts. They might be used in case a privilege escalation security issue is found in WordPress, so best to remove / block them I think. If anyone has any trouble registering, please post a comment here (you can do that without registering) and myself or another admin will create an account for you.

If you want to revert the changes I have made or have any other feedback, please let me know.

Hospitality Club and Airbnb Partnership

Veit, the hospitality club founder, comes with a nice surprise: using Airbnb to generate money for himself.

Hospitality Club and Airbnb have partnered to support one another in our shared vision to bring people together. We are very excited about this partnership since it allows us as a community to further spread the idea of hospitality exchange and at the same time raise much-needed funds by doing something we love anyway – hosting!


“CouchSurfing chief says his goal is to go public” El Pais(España) Google Translation

CouchSurfing chief says his goal is to go public (Google Translation from

Daniel Hoffer announces he will not let annoying advertising does the same thing, but seven years earlier version and solidarity. CouchSurfing connects travelers seeking shelter in the world, even in Antarctica, with people willing to cede free. The site was created in San Francisco by Casey Fenton in 2003. Since then he has collected three million Internet users in 230 countries and borrowed couches and beds in 60,000 cities.

Around the World in 30 sofas

Private investors have pumped 5.5 million euros in the company

CouchSurfing is also a symbol of Internet collaborative Wikipedia-style: a non-profit or volunteer to write code to translate the content, is in 31 languages, which also receives donations. In 2009, for example, got $ 1.1 million (780,000 euros).

We no longer accept. CouchSurfing has changed its legal status “nonprofit” to business. It has also achieved $ 7.6 million (5.4 million) from private investors. Including Pierre Omidyar, eBay creative philanthropist, and Matt Cohler, Facebook and LinkedIn ex.

The changes have led to recriminations between the community of CouchSurfers, 28 years on average, they have managed to spend the night over his face in a strange house 3.6 million times in this time. They fear the free couch to go to hell, but rather that the database service is sold to third parties.

Daniel Hoffer, CEO of the company since January, denied in a telephone interview that the site will change their “social mission”. The problem, he argues, is that the Government of New Hampshire have been denied the status of “temporary” NGOs. “What we have asked from the beginning, since 2003.” The legal battle with including appeals, has taken seven years. “We lost. The U.S. government has tightened the conditions for non-profit company, they seek money as” jokes Hoffer.

The situation, he says, has left them broke. “Not only have we paid big bucks for lawyers, also a million dollars to the State of New Hampshire, and so we come to for funding.”

It also supports the manager of 33 years, “it is difficult to find engineers to work with us because we do not pay well.” The Bachelor of Business Administration believes that it can properly run the site “to volunteer, because people work two hours a week and no more may be required.”

His goal now is to “improve service”. For example, an “application for mobile phone,” AirBNB like that puts travelers in touch with home in apartments and private homes, and has achieved some eighty million euros of funding having grown 800% in 2010 .

Hoffer CouchSurfing does not give figures, the index 1700 Alexa ranks as the most visited Internet. “We have a lot of traffic and a lot of expenses on servers and bandwidth,” he says.

If the first step is to improve the supply, the second is “to grow. A road that will lead to the goal: go public.” As no investor money without releasing the vacuum to a return on investment, before advertising on the page added.

It will not be today or tomorrow. “We are still discussing what business model adopted for CouchSurfing. We do not want annoying ads and in any case, you must please the community. In addition, most services will remain free so that people can continue traveling around the world” , defends Hoffer.

¿Split the money among the volunteers who have written code, which have translated the site into other languages ​​or between landlords? “We are three million people in 230 countries. It would be difficult to share the money among all, if we did. The reality, however, is that we are not profitable.”

The $ 7.6 million (5.5 million) obtained from serve investors, he says, to hire the best engineers, “so that eventually the money will be returned to the community in the form of improvements.” Hoffer believes that when people understand the way the site will include undertaking “and accept”.

The site no longer accepts donations, volunteers and partners continue to be welcome. “Our social mission has not changed, although we now have company,” Hoffer insists, adding: “Part of the money paid as taxes on New Hampshire will be for a charitable initiative. Each project is eligible for $ 30,000 (21,000 euros).” It is the cultural exchange fund CouchSurfing.

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.

CS Doin it for the Love not the Money Y’all (Yea right!)

CS is a weird old beast, especially the brainstorms. For me now, its like watching a war on the news. One that’s miles away. In a place that you know, a place where you’ve been, a place where you’ve lived. You know the faces of the people lying wounded and you feel sorry for them. Still engaged in a pointless battle, of truth over lies, that they can’t win. Especially now, but not for the reasons that most people think. Briefly they deserted, to engage in a battle they could easily win, simply by being involved and what did they do? Gave up and went back into their nuclear winter, as if everything would be ‘ok’ ‘one day’ or that it was even possible for CS to get anywhere near how you would like it to be. It can’t. CS has changed and it ain’t going backwards.

Far from it, I actually think CS is going forward in many ways for the first time in a long time and it’s not moving slowly. CSI has had an upgrade. Not one that any of us like, but i think for the vast majority of CSers who are fairly or really shallow it is a great thing. CS can become even cooler, with them and throw off the nomadic, dumpster diving traveller types, that bring it down or are just too deep or conscious, for them. CS is now a primetime show, it has some serious people involved, who know what they are doing and look like they are giving good advice. The only problem is is the direction that advice is taking them in. From what I see, they are headed for the mainstream and the boys are going to make money. Isn’t that what everyone said they would do, although New Hampshire law and even the bylaws of the incorporated company stated, that they couldn’t. Well they have and we now know how much we can rely on those laws.

A public owned entity has been transformed into a private owned entity,which is IMO was an illegal move, upon which shares have been issued and distributed between private individuals, in complete secrecy. I would say at a minimum the VC investors have taken 10%, valuing CSI at, US$76M. Where dose this value come from? The only assets CSI have is the concept in a functioning form with history, the code and the database. I doubt the code is worth anything near this, the history and brand recognition have worth as dose the database. You have been sold out. The only decisions you have to take is; are you going to appeal or take any other legal action, which i would support or not and are you going to continue to involve yourself in Casey’s get rich scheme?

It’s still a great ‘network/community of people’. People are people and i like most of em. You don’t even need an working account, its just a community of people who like to get of the couch and go somewhere, do something, meet someone, see something, eat something, learn something, hear something and dance. I don’t see CSers as an extension of CS, I see CS as an extension of CSers.

If the people in brainstorming who know the deal and give a shit, really want to put a dent in CSI they would turn their backs on cs and cs forums. Maintaining a post, nailed to the mast about why the ship is abandoned and where you can now be found

BW still has some minor bugs, which were working on. Yes members are joining everyday, yes there is more hosting everyday, yes it needs a kick up the rear, yes you guys are needed to give it that kick and for more of us developers to pipe up and offer to contribute. Either to a thorougher debugging session of the current in-house code(PHP, JS, HTML, CSS) or the rebuilding the whole site on the Drupal framework(Drupal, PHP, JS, HTML, CSS). BW is great because it works without leaders, but that is also its weakness, because many people don’t have the time or are unable to do the planning of the project, defining objectives, making sure the objectives have been met. Were working on that. If you really want to show that you are serious about non profit, openness, accountability, etc, etc, you will spend less time on a site that has proven that it is none of these things and now that it is a private limited liability corporation, never will be and more time on a site that is already all of those things

If your happy with having no option but to get used for your hosting and guesting needs, then keep on feeding CS your energies, so that Casey can become a bigger millionaire, than he now already is, even with just a 10% share or 5% or even 2.5%. Its your call!

I actually think these investors may be in it more for the social benefit than the money, but they will make money, lots of it. I think it will actually be good for CSI to have someone who knows what they are doing and can teach them how to do it. Even better for cs i don’t think they(the holy family), will learn and will get pushed aside as the ‘best thing for the corporations mission’, to get more members and so more share value, a bigger ego and longer holidays. Growing CS is all the investors need to do to make money! The original invested US$7.6M is probably already worth US$8M, so a estimated US$400k profit in a matter of weeks, not bad! The best thing they could do would be to ask for no money from the members, 10¢US verification, make everything else free or cheap, have great code cool features, even funding offline events, even implementing a fairly good safety policy and even host insurance. Member insurance i’m sure wouldn’t be a bad side line. You got to think outside the box a little to see the full picture on this one. But one things for sure, CS ain’t going to be anything like what you knew it to be. Casey has been taken off the drugs and wheeled out on the PR team, giving everyone ‘insperation’, god help them!. Yea man, I s.., I see, I see, a couch. Cool! I see someone spamming many people in a cold place. I see someone making promises they will never keep. I see a group of people who for half a decade won’t communicate with a community who are donating hundreds of thousands of dollars to them. I see a community with gold fever, ‘I say there’s gold in them there couches!’.

Each and every one of us is responsible for the future. We collectively decide what happens, we co-create a large percentage of the reality around us. Both through our words, but also and importantly through our actions. Decide today right now what future you want and act upon it. Are you going to see to it that at least one non-profit hospex site functions well and correctly, that the developers know what the community wants and make suitable plans to achieve objectives and acts upon them, that the project has sufficient developers to meet its needs, rallying round to find them, if needed. We have the technology, we have the resources, we have the mental acuity and i think after the years of making noise about it, we have a duty to get this done.

“In my opinion the only way out is a Faebook/Google Sofa application with a fair business model that will be eventually bought one day by a big company.” I wasn’t so far off the mark, only just a few weeks back

You know how you deal with trolls? Well you can do the same with websites and shitty organisations. ;)

Focus you love and insperation on BW and not your hate and frustration on CS!

A group of brainstormers were recently spotted taking a dip in the hot-tub. Really this is my idea of people still trying to effect anything on CS. Give it up guys, put up a trust foreclosure notice on the group, pack up and leave. There is only one game that i see being played now and thats ‘grab some shares if you can’. Thats a game that ‘most’ you are even further behind on.
Brainstormers taking a break in the hot-tub.


This is where your money goes

Seems that Cyril is really working on getting more members….

We Love New Couch$urfers!

New to Couch$urfing and you just signed up? And you clicked on the link that says “Continue”? Great! You are now at the page that we call the We-Trap-You-Page or also “Step 2″. This step is to verify that you really are who you say you are. Sounds good, right?

Now you see information about money and how great verification is, and a form that is for you to fill in. “Can I deal with that later maybe?” is probably what you think. But no! You can’t find the next continue button! Help! Where is the “skip this” button? How do I get out of here? I thought C$ was for free?

And what? Oh you live in Denmark? Bad for you, your suggested minimum donation is set to be $69.71 currently. And don’t you even think of paying less than that “recommended” amount because you won’t get through the form!

Ah, you live just across the border in Germany. That’s cool, you then pay $48.37 dollar less ($21.34). That’s 3 times cheaper for 5 kilometer! Hey, didn’t Casey just promise the community: “Just because we’re not a non-profit doesn’t mean we’re actually “for” profit”

Anyway. No worries. If you have no money, you can still become a member. As Casey wrote before, “The CouchSurfing features that you use today will continue to be free”. To help you further, you can apply for free verification through a verification scholarship.

But unfortunately the page doesn’t give you much information, and it still tells you that you have to pay (oh did the tech-team again release something without talking with communication dept? Where is Casey when you need him? Oh wait, he’s partying at Burning Man!)

And in despair you go to the address-bar and type: and pfff, it finally works.

C$ Feature: No Negative References

With C$ going commercial I wouldn’t mind paying for the feature of having my negative references erased immediately. Just like what happens when you leave one for Couch$urfing-founder Casey. This is a message I received from a friend:

If you want to play a funny game, try to leave a negative ref to Casey and its gonna be erased right away! Wow! life is great!

Casey must have been getting a lot of them since the recent announcement of selling our data.