In October, layoffs claimed an estimated 40 percent of the staff, and CEO Tony Espinoza announced his departure — giving an opening to competitors like Be Welcome and Hospitality Club.
Although the company has initiated a doubling down on mobile, the experience of users like Riccardo might suggest another path to profitability. The almost decade-old Couchsurfing, which is available in 100,000 cities across the globe, is becoming the go-to hookup app for a certain class of young world travelers.
(Riccardo and other Couchsurfing users quoted in this article asked to be identified by pseudonyms.) On the business front, the crowdsourced hospitality site has been experiencing a rough patch lately.
After a controversial transition to a for-profit model in 2011, which brought million in funding in the past two years, growing pains have set in.
I want to have three days with somebody I can talk with.
Not somebody just empty.” In Riccardo’s case, it all starts with a request for approval — from his pal in Miami. “There’s more people coming to New York than Miami, so he’s always like, ‘You bastard! ”1 He got a little closer on his second try, a girl from Slovakia with blonde hair (his weakness) and small, dark, squinty eyes.
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He accepts them based on their attractiveness “of course,” but physical appearance isn’t the only criterion.
“I’ve seen cute girls that have boring pictures and I’m like, ‘You look boring, sorry.’ At the end of the day I’m going to spend three days with you.
“All of my friends, they love these stories,” Riccardo tells Business Insider over beers in a quiet bar in Midtown Manhattan. I’m like, ‘You know, whatever, we went out, had sex...’ They’re like, ‘No, no, no—tell me when she got there, where you went, did you kiss her, every single detail.’” We had the same questions.
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