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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.
This system allows friends you’ve made globally or locally to vouch for you and the unlikelihood of you being a serial killer.Nowhere does the profile state explicitly that if you are an attractive female traveler, you might skip the couch entirely and wind up in Riccardo’s bed, but it’s a good possibility.In eight months using the service, Riccardo, who is 32 and works for an ad agency, has let eight visitors crash at his apartment, of whom he’s hooked up with five, for a 62 percent “success rate.” If you count the additional two who climbed into bed with him for a cuddle and then fell asleep, the percentage climbs even higher.Bloggers like Maverick Traveler will help you spot the “8 Signs of a Slutty Couch Surfer Girl” by decoding her profile, and female-centric advice site You Queen has even offered tips on “How to Use Couch Surfing as a Dating Site and Get Away with It.” Meanwhile, a site called Couch Bangs.com, which declares that “Couchsurfing isn’t just for Couchsurfing,” offers a forum for proud couch-cuddlers to share their experiences via short posts with titles like “French Girl in Istanbul” and “Brazilian Girl in New York.” Couch Surfing’s Community Guidelines explicitly warn against contacting other members for dating, noting, “we will consider this harassment” — albeit without stipulating what the penalties are for violating this rule.In an email interview, the site’s interim CEO Jen Billock told Business Insider that “members are ...
’ I’m like dude, it works.” Riccardo is asked if he feels sleazy.