CouchSurfing

  www.couchsurfing.org
Work in HR? Unlock Free Profile

CouchSurfing Reviews

Updated May 24, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.0 28 reviews

50% Approve of the CEO

(no image)

Tony Espinoza

(6 ratings)

52% of employees recommend this company to a friend
18 Employee Reviews Back to all reviews
in
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    2 people found this helpful  

    The biggest 180 I have ever witnessed a company take

    Engineer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    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 Senior Management-- 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.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    9 people found this helpful  

    On your toes

    Programmer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsIf 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.

    ConsWhat'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 Senior ManagementChange management.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    17 people found this helpful  

    Hire and fire

    Mobile Applications Engineer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsThe 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.

    ConsThere'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 Senior ManagementStart telling the truth and listen to our customers.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

  1. We want your feedback – Are these company reviews helpful to you?  Yes | No
    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    14 people found this helpful  

    A great idea going quickly down the drain

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsGroup meals and fun office space.

    ConsGross mis-management issues destroying the unique vibe and replacing it with a culture of fear and "Yes Men".

    When I started, this seemed like the best job ever. Even in just the year or so that I've been here I've seen the company rapidly decline. Any sort of mission or vision focus has been completely erased. Most of the original people have quit or been let go through regular mass layoffs. Those who have managed to hang on to their jobs have learned to do whatever the head guy tells them to and not to ask questions. My job is no longer about making decisions or creating, it's about pushing buttons. I just hope I can hang on to it long enough to find a new one elsewhere. There's no passion here any longer.

    I hope the Couchsurfing community finds a way to survive with CS or without.

    Advice to Senior ManagementBest of luck to you. I hope I can leap frog onto the next job before you fire me.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    17 people found this helpful  

    CouchSurfing as we know it is no more

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsAll the great community members.

    ConsThe new management have quickly fired anyone who was around in the non-profit days and have completely forgotten the original mission and vision. Semi-annual mass layoffs will continue to happen without notice while they struggle to figure out how to make money off of people's goodwill and hospitality. Good luck to the actual CouchSurfing community members in the future.

    No, I would not recommend this company to a friend – I'm not optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities
    • Approves of CEO

    4 people found this helpful  

    A Company that Lost its Soul

    Engineer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    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 Senior Management-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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    1 person found this helpful  

    Fabulous people & meaningful work

    Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

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

    ConsYou'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.

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    2 people found this helpful  

    A good company to work for.

    Engineer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    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 Senior ManagementYou 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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

    2 people found this helpful  

    A fascinating experiment to be a part of

    Web Applications Engineer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsYou 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")

    ConsCouchsurfing 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 Senior ManagementDon'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.

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

    • Culture & Values
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Comp & Benefits
    • Career Opportunities

     

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

    Engineer (Current Employee) San Francisco, CA

    ProsI 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.

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

    Yes, I would recommend this company to a friend – I'm optimistic about the outlook for this company

Worked for CouchSurfing? Contribute to the Community!

Your response will be removed from the review – this cannot be undone.