CouchSurfing
3.0 of 5 26 reviews
www.couchsurfing.org San Francisco, CA 16 to 50 Employees

CouchSurfing Reviews

Updated Jan 13, 2014
All Employees Current Employees Only

3.0 26 reviews

                             

60% Approve of the CEO

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Tony Espinoza

(5 ratings)

54% of employees recommend this company to a friend
26 Employee Reviews
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new and awesome challenges everyday that keep me learning and growing as an engineer

Engineer (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

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

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16 people found this helpful  

Management is cold & clueless. The food is good.

Engineer (Former Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

I worked at CouchSurfing full-time

Pros1) The office furniture is nice
2) Ping-pong table
3) The chef is a very good chef.
4) Good health benefits to balance the stress and hostility from Management.
5) Mediocre severance

Cons1) Co-workers disappear from the office and you don't know until weeks later that they were not on vacation. This happens monthly!

2) Company relies heavily on a media façade to spin the negative comments of the Community regarding the Corporate take-over of the company and the deletion of website features.

3) Product & Management has background in games and doesn't understand the CouchSurfing community or why the product (which they inherit) was successful in the past. This leads to poor design decisions, wasted engineering hours, and lots of last-minute pressure to deliver last-minute changes.

4) "Unlimited vacation" is NOT good like it may sound. Unlimited vacation mean you only take vacation if your manager lets you (even if you earned the vacation). State of California requires employer to pay you untaken vacation hours when you are terminated but unlimited vacation avoids this because you do not earn any vacation hours. Basically it is a trick to avoid having to pay for unused vacation hours when they fire you.

Note: They are writing 5-star reviews on Glassdoor to balance out the negative reviews. Read the positive and negative ones and make decision yourself. It is the media propaganda game like all the internet is! My recommendation: Don't work too hard, don't work overtime, and be prepared for termination regardless of how good your performance is.

Advice to Senior ManagementTreat people with respect. Don't rely on media to pretend that you are a respectful & cultural company. You clearly doesn't care about employees or about the people in the Community. Don't see the Community and your employees as data points.

Also, Stop lying.

In another review a person wrote "Couchsurfing has (finally) completed planned lay-offs of low-performing staff" which is just trying to create a scapegoat for the management's poor performance and mistakes. For example, the latest website updates which took much longer than anticipated, and look & perform poorly.

No, I would not recommend this company to a friend

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2 people found this helpful  

The biggest 180 I have ever witnessed a company take

Engineer (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

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17 people found this helpful  

Hire and fire

Mobile Applications Engineer (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

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

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15 people found this helpful  

What was once a user-centric, hospitality-driven trusted community is quickly turning into just another travel website

Anonymous Employee (Former Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

ProsMany of the people who work at CouchSurfing are wonderful, but leadership leaves much to be desired. Members of CouchSurfing are extremely passionate and committed; that kind of consumer engagement is hard to come by. That said, many of the most engaged members have become disenchanted and frustrated with recent changes to the website, and some of the best community leaders are leaving the site.

ConsI agree with another reviewer who said that this has turned into a hierarchical organization run by a culture of fear. There have been several rounds of layoffs in the past 18 months, with little to no explanation given. Highly skilled and talented people have chosen to leave. CouchSurfing is losing its soul.

Advice to Senior ManagementIt's one thing to talk about having a strong culture, and another thing to practice what you preach. Diversity in perspectives, skills, nationality, background makes a team stronger, not weaker. Finally, I worry about safety issues when you have men in many countries who perceive CouchSurfing to be a dating website.

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

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9 people found this helpful  

On your toes

Programmer (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

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

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The first startup I have found that feels like a real family.

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

ProsReally smart people, regular work hours, in-house chef, amazing office space, travel stipend to visit other countries and use the product.

ConsLots of change (both in technology and personnel)

Advice to Senior ManagementWith any startup, there are tough decisions on how to grow the company to support new projects. If the current management team continues be honest about "change", then the company and product will continue to improve.

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

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1 person found this helpful  

Best decision I ever made

Current Employee (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

I have been working at CouchSurfing full-time for 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.

ConsThe 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 Senior ManagementKeep 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.

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

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1 person found this helpful  

An inspiring place to work

Anonymous Employee (Current Employee)

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

ProsBefore I even started working for Couchsurfing, it was the reason I got up in the morning! The Couchsurfing community has been part of my life for years and working for the company now is better than I could have ever imagined. Every single staff member is brilliant, fun and passionate about what we do. Being around people like that every day not only makes your job more fun, but pushes you to do better.

We're given every single resource would could possibly need to do our jobs to the best of our ability. We're encouraged to think outside the box, ask questions and management is incredibly transparent. As an employee you feel valued and encouraged.

ConsIt's hard work! And because of the changes happening to the website, not everyone knows the answer to everything. There is no set path and decisions are changed daily. This definitely keeps us on our toes, though it's really only a con when you're tired.

The split between the old community and new community is always a tricky one. Some days it can be hard to do your job when you're being pushed from all ends.

Advice to Senior ManagementKeep on keepin' on. Keep infusing the original spirt and mission of Couchsurfing alive every day. That's what reminds us why we do what we do.

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

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2 people found this helpful  

Dynamic, performance-based workplace that's finally gaining momentum

Product Team Leader (Current Employee)
San Francisco, CA (US)

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

ProsCouchsurfing has (finally) completed planned lay-offs of low-performing staff and is now picking up a huge amount of momentum. The company is moving at the speed of other consumer internet startups: using Agile-ish processes to iterate quickly against clear, high level strategy from an experienced, intelligent, well-liked, and well-respected leadership team.

I'm an experienced, choosy product leader and I could get a similar job at many well-known consumer internet startups. But, like I said, I'm choosy. I wanted to work with an experienced management team in part because I'm tired of working for young men with no experience and a lot of entitlement.

I've never worked with a leadership team that I liked or respected more than the current leadership of Couchsurfing. The engineers are curious, skilled, flexible, and happy. The community team is also fantastic; walking that very difficult line between tactical and strategic communication with a well-established userbase.

The pay, perks, benefits and culture are awesome. I've spent many super fun nights out with my coworkers, who are now some of my closest friends. I'm honored to work with these people every day working to connect people across the world.

ConsThere's a ton of work to do to repair the relationship between the company and the community of Couchsurfing. Couchsurfing (the company) has a history a poorly thought-out products and mismanaged communications when it was run by the (recently laid off) original staff. If you work at Couchsurfing you'll spend quite a bit of time dealing with the legacy product, which for experienced product designers and developers can be a nightmare.

Advice to Senior ManagementKeep moving.

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

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Glassdoor is your free inside look at CouchSurfing reviews and ratings - including employee satisfaction and approval ratings for CouchSurfing CEO Tony Espinoza. All 26 reviews are posted anonymously by CouchSurfing employees.