As an active user of the Couchsurfing network I got betrayed by Casey Fenton. He turned CouchSurfing into a profit corporation. I dedicated myself to Couchsurfing because I believed in the recurring statements that CouchSurfing is not and will not be about making money (what Mr. Fenton still claims but I don´t believe him anymore).
my conclusions so far:
1. CS is a corporation now. Even if it´s a „B“-Corporation it will be subject to the rules of the markets. I know a similar situation from the company I worked with for the last two years (www.greencity-energy.de). We are still doing a lot of good things there but we can´t do anything we consider „good“ anymore without considering the revenues. If we still tried, it´s a short way to get assailable of our investors.
Daniel Hoffer ist going to be „President and CEO“, Matt Cohler is going to be member of the board and the headquarters are going to be in San Francisco.
2. CS took 5.1 Million Euro from Omidyar Network and Benchmark Capital. This is venture capital, which means to me that the investors are expecting great revenues.
What I find strange:
– In the information provided by CouchSurfing they don´t mention anything that has to do with Facebook. They don´t mention Benchmark Capital as one of the two investors and they don´t mention Matt Cohler, a former head of Facebook being one of the partners of Benchmark Capital and getting a chair in the board of the new B-Corporation.
– The informations provided by CouchSurfing almost only relates to becoming a „B“-Corporation, not to the funding of the 5.1 million Euros, that can in my opinion be seen as a different process. Assumed CS would have to get a „B“-Corporation on the base of what they say, there would still have been the question if we need more money and where it should come from.
– no information is given on:
concrete ideas how to earn the revenues (I imagine there are some at least in the heads of the investors)
details of the contracts (especially how CS protects that their goals will stay no1 priority)
details on staff and incomes of the Corporation
details on the decisions (who decided?, what were the options?)
I assume (which means I don´t know):
– Matt Cohler had big influence on the process. First there were the Facebook-Button on each of our profiles and now the company he´s a partner of invests in CouchSurfing and he becomes member of the board
– CS doesn´t want this all to be discussed or even decided by the community. That´s why I´m confronted with two facts: the B-Corp and 5.1 Million Euro from investors. I haven´t heard from the problems with the legal status neither money problems so far. That´s also why they are so short on details and why they don´t say anything about alternatives.
I haven´t decided yet but at this point I don´t think that I´m going to stay with CouchSurfing much longer. It really makes me sad but I´d rather leave then anyhow support what´s going on here.