CouchSurfing

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CouchSurfing Reviews

Updated 24 July, 2014
Updated 24 July, 2014
28 Reviews

3.1
28 Reviews
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Tony Espinoza
6 Ratings

Employee Reviews

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

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

    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
  3.  

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

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA (US)

    Pros

    I 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.

    Cons

    I 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 ManagementAdvice

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

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
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  5. 16 people found this helpful  

    Management is cold & clueless. The food is good.

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Former Employee - Engineer  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Former Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA (US)

    Pros

    1) 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

    Cons

    1) 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 ManagementAdvice

    Treat 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Neutral Outlook
  6. 2 people found this helpful  

    The biggest 180 I have ever witnessed a company take

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Engineer  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Engineer in San Francisco, CA (US)

    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 ManagementAdvice

    -- 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.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  7. 17 people found this helpful  

    Hire and fire

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Mobile Applications Engineer  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Mobile Applications Engineer in San Francisco, CA (US)

    Pros

    The 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.

    Cons

    There'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 ManagementAdvice

    Start telling the truth and listen to our customers.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  8. 9 people found this helpful  

    On your toes

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Programmer  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Programmer in San Francisco, CA (US)

    Pros

    If 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.

    Cons

    What'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 ManagementAdvice

    Change management.

    Doesn't Recommend
    Negative Outlook
  9. 1 person found this helpful  

    Best decision I ever made

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Current Employee  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Current Employee in San Francisco, CA (US)

    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.

    Cons

    The 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 ManagementAdvice

    Keep 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.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  10. 1 person found this helpful  

    An inspiring place to work

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

    Pros

    Before 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.

    Cons

    It'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 ManagementAdvice

    Keep 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.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook
  11. 2 people found this helpful  

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

    • Comp & Benefits
    • Work/Life Balance
    • Senior Management
    • Culture & Values
    • Career Opportunities
    Current Employee - Product Team Leader  in  San Francisco, CA (US)
    Current Employee - Product Team Leader in San Francisco, CA (US)

    Pros

    Couchsurfing 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.

    Cons

    There'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 ManagementAdvice

    Keep moving.

    Recommends
    Positive Outlook

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