CouchSurfing

  www.couchsurfing.org
  www.couchsurfing.org
There are newer employer reviews for CouchSurfing

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

28 Other Employee Reviews for CouchSurfing (View Most Recent)

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  1. 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
  2.  

    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
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