CouchSurfing

  www.couchsurfing.org
  www.couchsurfing.org

CouchSurfing Reviews

Updated May 24, 2014
Updated May 24, 2014
28 Reviews
3.1
28 Reviews
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Tony Espinoza
6 Ratings

18 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews

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  1. 1 person found this helpful  

    Fabulous people & meaningful work

    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee

    I have been working at CouchSurfing

    Pros

    Wonderful co-workers, great pay & benefits, excellent food, puppy-friendly, great warehouse space in Potrero Hill.

    Cons

    You'll put on weight due to the excellent food!
    A smaller team means that there is a lot of work to be done - work / life balance can sometimes suffer.

  2. 4 people found this helpful  

    A Company that Lost its Soul

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    -Great benefits
    -A typical Generic Silicon Valley Company
    -Lots of Employees from reputable companies such as Apple etc.
    -Many great talents
    -The CEO Tony is a very nice guy and a joy to work with.

    Cons

    -If you looking for a different company with extraordinary values and the diversity Couchsurfing community represented, this is not your company. Don’t get fooled by their ‘we are different’ marketing. However, if you looking for a crowd that all think a like. Go for it!

    -There are a lot of “know it all” and big Egos in the middle management that will quickly resign their ideas to blame others for the failures they constantly make. Lots of Politics here!

    -As you can see from reviews the new management was not happy with the old employees. They are also bad mouthing their performance. How can you bad mouth someone who created the biggest social travel site in the world with over 5 million members? Did any of you new employees do that? Any takers?

    -You can read from these reviews the new crew seem very intolerant to what they call hippies? That’s showing a very intolerant attitude towards a diverse culture Couchsurfing is, and if you read reviews online you will find upset previous members that feel the new management is very incompetent.

    -Yes, they were “hippies”, that didn’t know what they were doing and got screwed by the investors. They worked for free for many years and had real passion for this community.

    -Take away the salary lets see how much time the “new crew” is putting out.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -The management is very insecure and not flexible to understand other types of values than numbers on a spreadsheet. (I guess thats what you’re hired to do)

    -Stop blaming the old system for errors. That is getting old. You have had 1 1/2 Years to change things around. Your “new” product such as place pages is worse than the old one. Thats just to show how “bad” job the old members did.

    -I understand a new management wanted to hire their own crew. However, it could have been done in a less sneaky way. You could have communicated directly to people instead of giving them no indication of what was going on. I think that’s why it created such resentment. This could have gone down very differently.

    -And if you fail to reach your goal don’t blame the hippies and don’t give the investors the copout “8 of 10 Startups fail.. not our fault, we did the best we could. Lets find another job!” Couchsurfing has been around for over 7 years and it’s not a startup.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO
  3. 2 people found this helpful  

    A fascinating experiment to be a part of

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Web Applications Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Web Applications Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    You already know this if you've read the reviews, but it can't be said enough — the food is fabulous, the office is beautiful and sunny, and our office is full of thoughtful, intelligent and talented people.

    You get to contribute to a product that changes people's lives and makes the world a better place, and I say this as a hardened cynic.

    Management is receptive and accessible, and while there are layers of bureaucracy, they're thin.

    The paid time off policy is pretty rad (although it isn't actually "unlimited")

    Cons

    Couchsurfing isn't run by hippies anymore. It's run by people whose primary experience has been in more traditionally commercial arenas, and it shows.

    Couchsurfing has worked in the past because of a community of people who stepped in to fill gaps left by the technology, which were (and continue to be) enormous. The upside of this is a global community that is extremely engaged and passionate about Couchsurfing. The downside of this is difficulty to scale, constant internecine warfare, and a system that *kind of* worked, but only for a certain type of person.

    The new management doesn't believe the community should be the main force that keeps the site running, and they are intent on replacing lots of functions that used to be served by the community with technology. I personally think this is a bad idea, but management is honest about it, and I am willing to be party to this experiment to see if it works.

    Also, from a technical perspective, you're swimming upstream against massive amounts of technical debt the day you start, and while there is lots of institutional support for fixing it, things move so fast that it's hard to get a foothold against it.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Don't talk trash about people that are critical of the company's new direction within earshot of all the employees. Also, don't talk trash about "anarchists" and "the occupy movement" as if you can safely assume all of your employees have the same opinion about those things. Assume there is political diversity in your workplace and act accordingly.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
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  5. 2 people found this helpful  

    A good company to work for.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (more than an year)

    Pros

    - Every day that I step through the front doors of the office, I feel relaxed. I can genuinely say that I *enjoy* working here.

    - The people that I work with are talented, interesting, and fun. No exceptions.

    - The food is high quality.

    - We are working on a product that is creating genuine, real-life connections between strangers. That's core to Couchsurfing's mission. Despite the drastic changes that I've witnessed in the past few years at this company, I haven't seen our focus on that mission waver.

    - Couchsurfing's users are awesome. The majority of them are appreciative, involved, and caring. I feel so lucky to be working on a product that my friends love and use every day.

    - Management has successfully rejuvenated a company that was stagnating a few years ago. While the firings that have happened here since I arrived make me sad, it's clear that CS is doing very well with the new direction it has taken.

    - As an engineer, I have lots of opportunities to learn and grow at Couchsurfing. I have the opportunity to work on interesting, unique, and challenging projects with extremely talented colleagues.

    - My coworkers are very knowledgable and the managers are excellent mentors.

    ----

    Many of the reviews I've read on this page are very unbalanced -- either they're raving about how CS has changed their lives completely and how this is the best place in the world, or they're complaining about how completely screwed everyone is and that management is Evil.

    I think it's best to step back, take a deep breath, and think about things from a logical place instead of an emotional one. Couchsurfing isn't a work-utopia where everything's perfect. No company is like that. Layoffs will happen from time to time, and they're not ever going to be fun.

    As an engineer, I haven't experienced the "culture of fear" that other reviewers allude to. It might have something to do with the economy in Silicon Valley right now -- there are many many choices out there for engineers. Getting fired isn't a massive setback, and it's difficult to find and retain good engineers. We get treated well. My non-engineering colleagues, however, also seem happy and satisfied with their jobs.

    Cons

    - Couchsurfing is undergoing a painful transition from not-for-profit to silicon-valley startup. In my time here, there have been three rounds of layoffs. They weren't fun. People that I have a lot of respect for got fired. (Thankfully, I still get to see them often, and in most cases, they have moved on to other interesting things. They are all still leading happy lives.)

    - Some members of the Couchsurfing community (the people that we make the website for!) are very loud and grumpy about the changes we make. This is inevitable when you have an engaged community, but sometimes it's difficult to watch a feature you've worked on get torn apart by angry users.

    - Like one of the other reviewers mentioned, I'm not a big fan of the fact that we recently removed the community postcards from the walls. Also, I liked the "live your dream, share your passion" poster. It'd be nice if we put those back. (To be fair, though, we replaced both with pictures of our community at Couchsurfing events. So we still get to see people in our community doing awesome things, which I find somewhat inspiring.)

    - Occasionally I feel that there is a communication barrier between management and employees. It goes both ways: When someone gets fired, the rest of the company doesn't get much warning and I feel blindsided. In the other direction, sometimes people get upset or confused about things and gossip about it with each other instead of bringing it up to management. I want to be careful to say that this is not the norm, just something that I've seen happen from time to time.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    You have a very difficult job, and I think you're doing it well. Please be careful to not surprise employees with big changes. And please encourage us to tell you ASAP if we aren't satisfied with something.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  6.  

    The best job I've ever had

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    -From the beginning I have felt empowered to expand my role, take on more responsibility, and challenge myself.
    -Upper management has been nothing but transparent with me since I started. Yes they expect a high level of performance and yes they fire people who underperform. This is because they are building a company where you are surrounded by the best employees in the city. Every team member should be astounding.
    -Culture is at the forefront of upper management's mind. There are weekly activities from volleyball league, to offsite happy hours. The meals, as pretty much everyone here has mentioned, are incredible. Free lunch and dinner by a stellar chef? Yes please. Cooking for palio, vegetarian, vegan, picky diets? You bet.
    -We are working towards something meaningful and inspired. The old website was clunky and problematic. We are building a new one that will make Couchsurfing easier and more fulfilling, whilst opening it up to a whole new audience.
    -Great equipment, and facilites. They make sure you have everything you need.
    -The people here truly care about one another. My best friends work here beside me, and I feel like I have finally found my home. I wake up excited to come here everyday.

    Cons

    -The office needs more bathrooms. There is always a line and it is annoying
    -The heating and cooling is a little wonky. Upstairs area is a sauna.
    -You have to be careful not to spend too much time here!

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Getting fired is hard. Many of the reviews here are from people who have felt the sting of a recent layoff from a company they poured their heart, soul, blood, sweat and tears into. But their opinions do not truly describe what its like to work here now.

    My advice to management is keep doing what you are doing. Remember that everyone who is here now, wants to be. In all that entails. Keep treating us with the respect we have come to expect.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  7.  

    new and awesome challenges everyday that keep me learning and growing as an engineer

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    I really love the people I work with. The other engineers are extremely talented and I learn from them every single day. The work is challenging and I constantly feel like I'm pushing the limits of my abilities and growing professionally as a result. The swings in the office are a great place to meditate on a hard problem you're chewing on, and if that doesn't do it surely a game of ping pong will. Most people in the office have a standing desk and we also have a 'living room' full of couches, so you never have to sit at the same boring desk day after day. We've started doing Tech Talk Tuesdays twice a month where someone presents a new language/framework/concept during lunch. The food is great. Like most people here, our chef is really, really good at what he does.

    Cons

    I love my work so much, that sometimes its hard to balance out other parts of my life. I find myself staying up through the night and hacking gleefully away on weekends to nail the projects I'm working on. Let me be completely clear: This is NOT because I feel pressure from management to work a lot. Its because the management creates an environment where the engineers are encouraged to build stuff, and to take pride in what you've built. The work-life balance thing is important though, so I guess this is a Con. But I can think of worse problems to have.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep up the good work. Its going to be an amazing year for Couchsurfing =]

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  8. 2 people found this helpful  

    The biggest 180 I have ever witnessed a company take

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    - The people you work closely with on a day to day basis are phenomenal. They are fun, they feel like family, and most everybody is bursting at the seams with talent.

    - The free lunches and dinners you share with your coworkers are better than anything you could possibly get at a nearby restaurant. The main chef is extremely talented and tries very hard to meet the wildly varying dietary restrictions of the employees.

    - The office space is *incredible*. Very open and cozy, very anti-cube, completely lit by the sun through the skylights during the day. It's a fantastic building, and has been seriously decked out to be a wonderful place to spend your working days.

    Cons

    - I can not even begin to stress these three words enough: *Culture Of Fear!* Senior management actually uses the phrase, "If you are not excellent, you will be fired" in the *new hire orientation!* ...I can't make this stuff up, folks.

    - They have fired *many* talented individuals with little to no notice in recent months. Almost all of the people fired have been the "old-timers" who had a very strong and passionate love for what Couchsurfing has historically stood for and meant to its community members.. which is far from a coincidence.

    - Senior Management claims that the grass roots, "meaningful connections" culture that CS was founded on is still the vision, but it feels as genuine as record company executives claiming that they're in it for the art. There appears to be no interest in the community as a collection of individuals who have shared amazing experiences through this service - instead the loyal community is viewed as data points for future monetization, and really nothing more. It would be foolish to think that a company would never have financial interest in mind, but it is a sad day when Couchsurfing has also lost its heart.

    - There used to be cork bulletin boards on the walls, with countless postcards from members thanking Couchsurfing for changing their lives and being a positive part of their experiences.

    All been taken down.

    There used to be art on the walls, and posters which inspired you to "live your dream, and share your passion."

    All been taken down.

    *Why* make such a bold and drastic statement? It speaks volumes to the fact that management isn't even *pretending* to the employees that they care about the culture anymore. It's worse than apathy, it's rubbing it in our faces.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    -- Don't remove the art and inspiration from the walls. It shows your true colors.

    -- Listen to your community. They know what made Couchsurfing special, and you clearly do not.

    -- Stop firing talented people who actually care about Couchsurfing. They will add more value in the members' eyes than all the trendy Rails development in the world could ever dream about.

    -- Couchsurfing can have a heart without jeopardizing your equity value. If you TRULY do your best to keep Couchsurfing's soul alive, the value (both monetary and otherwise) of the company will soar higher than you could ever imagine.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  9. 17 people found this helpful  

    Hire and fire

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Mobile Applications Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Mobile Applications Engineer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    The couches in our giant sky-lit office in San Francisco are comfy.
    Top-of-the-line medical, dental, and vision. 100% company-sponsored for employees. 50% for spouses and dependents.
    Extra time off to surf on members’ couches and experience Couchsurfing firsthand. Travel expenses.
    Equity stake in a start-up that’s already had eight years of success as a former non-profit. And a salary that rewards my creativity.
    Free healthy lunch, dinner, and snacks. Friday happy hour. Caffeine on tap. Safe parking for bicycles. Weekly ping pong turnaments. No dress code.

    Cons

    There's no strategy and no vision. A lot of stress and panic lately, resulting in last minute cancellations. If they don't fire me soon, like most of the people who worked here when I started, I'll have to quit before I go crazy or get an ulcer.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Start telling the truth and listen to our customers.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  10. 9 people found this helpful  

    On your toes

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Programmer in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Programmer in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (less than an year)

    Pros

    If you want to learn to change directions at the the bounce of a ping pong ball, catering to whims and about faces and general directionlessness, fixing what you broke yesterday by tearing it down tomorrow, CS is the perfect place for you. Adaptable people who can pretend to be working, offering fake contributions while praising today's fad and criticizing it tomorrow once "management" has decided to flip the coin again, will be mush appreciated.

    Cons

    What's to complain about? Now that the old staff has been tossed in the gutter, the cream of indecisiveness has taken the helm. They are so decisive they can go left and right at the same time, while falling backwards. It's a bit tiresome pretending to be an idiot, and while the food is free, it's a bit monotone.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Change management.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  11. 1 person found this helpful  

    Best decision I ever made

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Current Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Current Employee - Current Employee in San Francisco, CA

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time (more than 3 years)

    Pros

    ...was coming to work for Couchsurfing.
    The people Couchsurfing attracts are dedicated, intelligent, optimistic, hard-working, professionals who want to change the world for the better, and have a positive outlook reflective of that desire.
    This means that people here are aligned in our mission to facilitate people all over the world to connect in meaningful ways, by creating the best tool possible for doing so.
    Open, frank communication is the norm among the staff, including upper management.
    We all know each other, and eat meals together every day.
    Management creates opportunities for learning and growing into new positions for those with aptitude and drive. They are clear with staff about deliverables and job performance expectations, and make every effort to facilitate us reaching our goals.
    We work collaboratively. I feel my experience and input here is valued.
    It is fun! People here laugh a lot, and care a great deal about what we do, and who is affected by it.

    Cons

    The transition from the Couchsurfing of yesteryear to what Couchsurfing is now has been intense. Having been through several iterations of this organization's business structures, I can say that, as difficult as the staff, site, and communication changes have been, this organization, and the community that is persevering, is going to be better off for the changes, Dramatically so.
    However, in this crucial period, the multiple challenges of supporting our members in their endeavors, creating the most amazing site possible for them, maintaining our dedication to the safest and healthiest community of sharing individuals, and communicating about all of these things effectively is a real challenge. Exciting and daunting every day.

    Advice to ManagementAdvice

    Keep doing what you're doing: reaching out to individual members with experience who believe in what we're doing and take their advice, being diligent in taking the global perspective and considering all of the factors when making decisions, working collaboratively with your whole staff.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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