CouchSurfing Reviews

Updated Jan 29, 2020

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2.5
38%
Recommend to a Friend
30%
Approve of CEO
CouchSurfing CEO  Patrick Dugan (no image)
Patrick Dugan
10 Ratings
  1. Helpful (1)

    "Former developers must have gotten together to write their reviews."

    5.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time

    Pros

    Nothing gets more bad reviews than a clean sweep of a team of developers who are highly paid yet don't complete projects on time, take off work mid-week to pick up their new BMW despite a project that is trailing a month behind, and spend their time creating conspiracy theories about their boss. I'm confident the CEO has better things to do with his time than spy on us through our Nest cams, installed to provide safety for the employees -- considering we are located in the Mission District. Check out the website MissionLocal.org if you'd prefer to have the cameras removed. I have been at CouchSurfing over 2 years, and the management team has met my expectations for a small tech company. They aren't looking to micro-manage, and they want to see employees who can manage a lot of work and who aren't averse to self-directed learning. The management is willing to take risks based on the team's input, if the input is there. The CEO, Patrick, has plenty of experience working for successful tech companies. To the other reviewers' point that he has a finance background, I think they can understand that in this game, time is money and the management team would obviously expect those they compensate to keep that fact in the forefront of their project management. The recent series of reviews are too similarly written to be taken seriously. Show up for work with ingenuity and this is a great place to work. Working for CouchSurfing is a unique opportunity and it provides me with chances to advance my skillset.

    Cons

    If you want a job where you go to work and are handed a to-do list, this isn't the job for you. If you want your value as an employee to be determined exclusively by something other than the work you are paid to produce, then this isn't the place for you.

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  2. "Disgruntled Former Employees Giving Couchsurfing Bad Rap"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
    Approves of CEO

    I worked at CouchSurfing full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    Great community. Fun consumer product. Benefits are excellent for a small company. Access to decision making and management’s flexibility to take risks.

    Cons

    I’m a former employee that worked with Patrick and Francesco for well over two years. They’re not perfect and neither is the company but I don’t think they’re deserving this level of criticism. I spoke with another former employee and some of us are sad that this is the most professional perspective being offered. We all know that this is the inside thing to do when people quit or get fired and I just spoke with a former employee that was fired who snickered about this so they clearly aren’t 100% honest. Some people that got fired and left bad reviews left more than one bad review so there is a negative skew.

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    CouchSurfing Response

    January 29, 2020CEO

    Thanks for the kind words.


  3. Helpful (14)

    "Worst Place I've Ever Worked"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time

    Pros

    This place has seriously declined, I struggle to think of anything worth mentioning.

    Cons

    It's impossible to do our jobs now that Patrick has either forced a majority of individuals to either quit or get fired. Patrick instills fear into the employees here, threatening to fire us or he'll emotional abuse or manipulate us. He spends his time watching you through cameras. That's what its come to, the CEO thinks the best use of his time is to watch when employees come and go. Then use the footage to dispute work ethic and commitment. The team is barely holding on because key roles are missing and have gone unfulfilled. This place used to be great, but over the years under Patrick, has become a slow death.

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    CouchSurfing Response

    January 29, 2020CEO

    For context - we terminated a handful of people for underperformance. It isn't surprising that we received this review after terminating a small team around the same time it was written. I caution all readers to recognize that there is a lot of blame on one person and zero culpability. Suffice it to say that we do have a high bar for performance and that you won't last long unless you meet that expectation. We are continuing to get better at creating a culture of performance and exiting the folks that don't fit.

  4. Helpful (17)

    "Incompetent leadership is ruining a once great company and product"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at CouchSurfing full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    I got paid on time

    Cons

    To truly understand the plight of Couchsurfing and the other negative reviews (which are definitely worth reading as they’re 100% accurate) you need to understand Couchsurfing CEO Patrick Dugan. He worked in Finance for many years before deciding he wanted to be a hotshot tech CEO and was able to buy Couchsurfing at a time of turmoil. So once the financial bleeding is stymied, what then? With his only work experience in Finance, where does Patrick want to take this company in order for it to thrive? Problem is, he doesn’t know. The biggest themes of dysfunction at Couchsurfing come from the fact that Patrick wants others to follow him, but he doesn’t know what it means to truly be a leader, and he doesn’t have any understanding of or appreciation for how the tech industry works. Lack of leadership Every successful company needs a strong leader - not strong in the sense that they stick to their guns and never back down, but strong in that they understand how to lead, motivate, and gain the trust of those around them, all with a cool, level head in the midst of intense stress. The most core issue I saw at Couchsurfing is that Patrick doesn’t understand how a true leader operates - by creating a clear and inspiring vision and cultivating the best possible environment for the company to get there. The first miss is that the company vision was never clearly defined while I worked there. I was able to get bits and pieces from Patrick, but it seemed that he could only articulate vague ideas (“we want a cool product that users like”) or ideas that were essentially to plagiarize other companies’ assets. I recall an incident where he explained his vision for the company to a developer, and then said “but if you have a different app idea, then let’s do that!” The complete confusion over the company mission was present across all functions and essentially all employees. If the CEO himself can’t give a solid 30-second elevator pitch to the employees, how are they going to know what they should be driving toward? How are they going to be motivated to work hard if they don’t even know what they’re trying to accomplish? The second core issue is communication - Patrick doesn’t see the importance of communicating with his employees, setting expectations, clearly defining roles including his own, listening to others’ opinions, and most importantly, sharing the clearly defined company vision with everyone. He doesn’t understand that there’s a reason successful organizations do these things, and they’re not just red tape that slows everything down. There were several instances of key roles departing and absolutely no plan for replacement or filling in the gaps in responsibility. I never had clarity on whether my responsibilities and expectations were changing, and attempts to discuss with management were always met with assertion that “we have a plan” but that plan was never shared with me. He’s incredibly sensitive, to the point that if you so much as ask him “why did we make this decision” or other clarifying questions, he gets very defensive and reacts as if you’re openly rebelling against him. Once you’re on his bad side, he monitors your private Slack messages, calendar, and even office cameras to find dirt in order to fire you. He also frequently asks other employees for dirt, around things like how many hours you work, how quick you are to respond on weekends, and who the weakest team member is. Part of the above problem is that Patrick believes that talent is absolute - if someone is skilled in their craft, he expects them to come in on day 1 and deliver exponential gains, regardless of how messy the code base is or how bad the working environment is. To him, talent = results, and there are no other factors that can impact that equation. He directly said to me once that “there’s a certain level of IQ where people can figure out what’s going on.” This was his defense of why he doesn’t need to communicate with people; if they’re smart, they should figure out what to do. He sees his employees as mercenaries that he pays to do a job, but not as human beings that need to be inspired, motivated, valued, coached, listened to, trusted, or celebrated. He expects extreme levels of effort and long hours from all employees, as he explains would be the norm at early Instagram and Uber, but he doesn’t see the differences between Couchsurfing and hot tech startups where people really do work day and night - those people are heavily bought into the vision of the company and typically have a financial stake in its success, and those companies actually have clear, inspiring visions. The ultimate example of lack of leadership is how Patrick reacts when things go wrong. There’s no such thing as a blameless post-hoc at Couchsurfing, and placing blame on individuals is typically how Patrick addresses most issues. While most leaders might try to identify problems in the process or areas where they as leaders can improve, Patrick prefers to identify individual employees as the problem and often fires them without an objective review of their performance against expectations. Remember, he doesn’t see it as his job to set clear expectations and motivate/coach/challenge employees to meet them; if someone is talented, they should always perform strongly in his eyes no matter what. Lack of tech understanding The second major theme at Couchsurfing is that Patrick doesn’t know how tech companies create and deliver products, and he’s staunchly opposed to listening to any input from his employees. In fact, he would often completely disregard the recommendations of his engineers while asking outside contractors and friends at other companies for their opinions, then go back to the engineers and demand they proceed as the outsiders recommended. He doesn’t believe in asking “what should we build and how?” Instead, he typically makes a decision by doing some cursory Google research and asking friends at other startups, and then handing a list of demands to his engineering team that is non-negotiable. He doesn’t know or care what users will think about the proposal, and yet is confused when core user metrics decline over time. Patrick likes to stay heavily involved in the engineering process as an order giver and whistleblower. He has trouble focusing on any project for more than 2-3 weeks, so he gets angry if timeline estimates are longer than that, or if any project lasts longer than that timeframe. He insists on short “aggressive” timelines, but if unforeseen issues come up, he expects the team to work nights and weekends until the project is complete by the estimate date, which he sees more as a drop-dead guaranteed completion date that the team has signed in blood. He even once demanded, with a lot of yelling and cursing, that engineers give him a timeline estimate on the spot without doing any scoping. In the same meeting, he asserted “I’m not an engineer, but this shouldn’t take more than a month.” How could he possibly know that? Remember, he thinks talented developers should be able to work extremely quickly no matter what else is going on around them. Sometimes, he’ll track processes that he doesn’t understand, and if something appears to be wrong to an outside observer, he’ll chastise the team and threaten to fire people, whether or not there’s actually a problem. With his only working experience coming from Finance, Patrick is seldom able to see outside of the financial side of any tradeoff. He often outsources key projects to offshore contractors who claim they can do the job cheaply, but he doesn’t see the implications of having contractors handle most of your product development. The user community, to him, is an asset that the company owns and can leverage for financial gains. In reality, these users are customers that the company should be striving to delight, and without them, there’s no company at all. Perhaps the most important problem is a lack of appreciation of the importance of key roles. There are zero product people and zero designers at Couchsurfing; Patrick and his loyal #2 tell the engineers directly what to build, without doing any kind of user research or feasibility evaluation. Engineers aren’t allowed any buy-in either; they’re told what to do. There’s no CTO, head of engineering, or head of product, meaning there aren’t any experienced people who can guide the company in the right direction. There have been many talented people who worked at Couchsurfing, but nearly all of them have departed due to an inability to work with Patrick. The constant turnover (typically about 2 people quit or get fired every month) has led to a messy and confusing code base, and Patrick doesn’t see that solving this problem requires long-term commitment to a team, not firing and hiring entire teams every few months. These are all problems that could be solved if Patrick was willing to listen to anyone within the company and accept that big problems take time to fix. Unfortunately, his inability to listen to more experienced people may end up sinking the company forever. We don’t think he means to be a bad person, but he may be outside his element in this role.

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    CouchSurfing Response

    January 14, 2020CEO

    For context - we terminated a handful of people for underperformance. It isn't surprising that we received this review after terminating a small team around the same time it was written. I caution all readers to recognize that there is a lot of blame on one person and zero culpability. Suffice it to say that we do have a high bar for performance and that you won't last long unless you meet that expectation. We are continuing to get better at creating a culture of performance and exiting the folks that don't fit.

  5. Helpful (9)

    "Planning to Ignore Negative Reviews? Yea I Was You"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Software Engineer 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    Not much, I'm paid on time. I really enjoy my co-workers.

    Cons

    Oh where do I start. There's so much wrong with this company, it’s just sad. Patrick Dugan, the CEO is paranoid, in denial, desperate, delusional, and a sociopath. He suggested that we work on Thanksgiving. Yes you read that correctly. Thanksgiving is a time for your staff to take a break and reset. You're not gaining anything positive by asking your employees to work on Thanksgiving, when some of us see our families maybe only once a year. To suggest that, isn't about working hard, it’s just cruel. Near the end of one of our projects, we had a meeting to go over progress. In that meeting, Patrick said, "I'm not a developer, but I'd be embarrassed if I couldn't finish this in 1 to 2 months". What's funny about that is he admits he's not technical, but then he makes a ridiculous claim about how long something should take, and ridicules us in a public meeting. In the very same meeting, he said some very vulgar things that I can't even post on Glassdoor. Is this the type of person you want to work for? Patrick desperately wants to build the next version of Couchsurfing and makes absurd claims that it should be built in 6 months, but has absolutely no clue what the technical challenges are involved. There's no features laid out, no user stories, no designs, no technical plan, just loosely put together fairy tale ideas. So how do we know it should take 6 months to build? He doesn’t know, it’s a ridiculous timeline based on the fact that the company is sinking financially. He doesn’t ask the very people in the company that would know the answer, the technical team. Instead, he says “I’ve got so many friends that tell me this is possible in 6 months”. He loves to claim that Instagram was built in 6 months (not true), and that we should be able to do it too. Okay Patrick, do you think that’s the rule or the exception? Did they have a decade of technical debt to deal with too? No Patrick, you just sound silly. Again, delusional ideas with absolutely no sense of reality. The guy doesn't care about you. He only cares about his money and how to get out of Couchsurfing without losing a bunch of his money. He implies a lot, is never explicit. Then gets frustrated if you don't understand his implications. He implied that we should be working 10 hour days, 7 days a week. He thinks that being productive is how long you sit in your chair at work. Meanwhile, he’s on his computer online shopping and looking at planes, you know… being “productive”. His biggest fan is the COO. The COO is paid a lot of money to back him to grave like Giuliani would back Trump to the grave. The COO is equally delusional, out of touch with reality. The leadership team is only the CEO Patrick and the COO, that's literally it! If you're reading this and thinking, oh how bad could it be, I'll take a chance with these guys (contractor or w2), I was you. It was a huge mistake. You've been warned. Still want to give it a go? No problem, you enjoy pain and suffering.

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    CouchSurfing Response

    January 14, 2020CEO

    For context - we terminated a handful of people for underperformance. It isn't surprising that we received this review after terminating a small team around the same time it was written. I caution all readers to recognize that there is a lot of blame on one person and zero culpability. Suffice it to say that we do have a high bar for performance and that you won't last long unless you meet that expectation. We are continuing to get better at creating a culture of performance and exiting the folks that don't fit.

  6. Helpful (18)

    "Patrick ia an evil person"

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in South San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook

    I worked at CouchSurfing full-time for more than a year

    Pros

    None, run away from this hell

    Cons

    I was working as a contractor, Patrick, the CEO, asked me to join as a full time employee, and quit my job with the contracting company and he would pay me more, after I quit me job he offered me less than what I was making before.

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    CouchSurfing Response

    January 29, 2020CEO

    This doesn't deserve to be dignified with a response.

  7. Helpful (9)

    "Horrible place to work. Avoid at all costs."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
     
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at CouchSurfing

    Pros

    The team is amazing, but it’s led by a horrible CEO.

    Cons

    Couchsurfing is a product that has a lot of potential. But this company is led by a CEO who has no idea how products are built. The company does not care about its employees, expects us to work our tails off with no recognition, and lacks any vision and structure. Like others have said, read the reviews before joining. They are all 100% true and not at all exaggerated. If you decide to join, be prepared to be manipulated, gaslighted, and emotionally abused. Also, your every action will be watched, online and offline, and used against you. Don’t work here if you value your own sanity.

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    CouchSurfing Response

    January 14, 2020CEO

    For context - we terminated a handful of people for underperformance. It isn't surprising that we received this review after terminating a small team around the same time it was written. I caution all readers to recognize that there is a lot of blame on one person and zero culpability. Suffice it to say that we do have a high bar for performance and that you won't last long unless you meet that expectation. We are continuing to get better at creating a culture of performance and exiting the folks that don't fit.

  8. Helpful (15)

    "Avoid at all costs."

    1.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Anonymous Employee 
    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at CouchSurfing full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    You get paid on time.

    Cons

    High turnover. People are always leaving or being fired. Constant micromanagement from the COO. Low morale and CEO is completely unengaged and paranoid. This place is dying and you can see that from the recent review. Very bad communication despite most of company being remote.

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  9. Helpful (13)

    " Strange management, lack of technical vision"

    2.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Former Employee - Software Engineer in San Francisco, CA
    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
    Disapproves of CEO

    I worked at CouchSurfing full-time for less than a year

    Pros

    All the financial liabilities were paid in time (salaries and a short leave compensation). Modern tools (software) to support the process. Challenging tasks. Good benefits package (salary, vacations, company retreats in foreign country, etc.).

    Cons

    High rate of technical employees turnover. A lot of skilled and motivated people fired by some sparkle raised inside the top management team on a short notice. Company could even fire all the domain experts at once without knowledge transfer to new employees. No real feedback from the top management on performance. One just get fired at once if "something is wrong". Lack of strong technical management and vision.

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  10. Helpful (2)

    "Great product, community and team"

    4.0
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    • Compensation and Benefits
    • Senior Management
    Current Employee - Anonymous Employee 

    I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time

    Pros

    The product is an incredible concept and great to be able to work on to support the super appreciative community. The problems are challenging and exciting to work on and every person can make an impact The team is finally getting to a point that it is made up of people who believe in building great product and working hard as a team- from previous posts you may note it’s taken some disgruntled departures to get there

    Cons

    As noted- the problems are challenging which can be a pro and a con

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