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(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.
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.
“All of my friends, they love these stories,” Riccardo tells Business Insider over beers in a quiet bar in Midtown Manhattan. I’m like, ‘You know, whatever, we went out, had sex...’ They’re like, ‘No, no, no—tell me when she got there, where you went, did you kiss her, every single detail.’” We had the same questions.
“My first Couchsurfing hookup happened when I was staying with my friend in Miami,” Riccardo recalls. Months later Riccardo got a phone call from the same girl, asking if she could stay at his place in New York City. “I never talked to her again,” he admits, adding, “I mean, we’re friends on Facebook.” Couchsurfing was born after a budget-conscious traveler named Casey Fenton sent out a mass request for accommodations in Iceland and received 50 invitations from students with a free spare futon.
In an email interview, the site’s interim CEO Jen Billock told Business Insider that “members are ...
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.
“I’m telling him it was awesome last night, I had sex and everything—but it was empty sex.” We ask if he’ll stop, since it’s become so unfulfilling, he smiles and shakes his head no. As Maverick Traveler, a self-proclaimed nomad who “roams the earth, seduces beautiful women,” and blogs about his adventures, puts it, “I simply do not know of an easier way for a guy to get laid with exotic women in exotic countries. ” The anonymous blogger is also the author of the popular “How to Bang Couch Surfing Girls—The Complete Guide” (which, after he declined to comment for this article, mysteriously disappeared from his website) and “8 Signs of a Slutty Couchsurfing Girl” (which mysteriously didn’t).
According to his blog, he started using the site in 2009 “as a tool to get to know a city, meet interesting people, and, of course, to bang chicks.” Four years of his exotic lifestyle later, Maverick is sharing the secrets of Couchsurfing as a “gateway to easy lays” — from preparation (“Wash your cum-soaked bed sheets”) to avoiding a negative review at all costs: “Under normal circumstances, I use every trick in the book to get a bang, but with a possible negative looming over my head if things don’t work out, I play it cool with Couchsurfing chicks.” Most of his readers are clearly appreciative of his advice: “Nice post.
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I didn’t know CS was a bangtool,” reads one response. just turned in her two-weeks notice, a final preparation for her upcoming road trip through the Americas along the Rocky/Andes mountains to arrive in Brazil just in time for World Cup 2014. “But I have made out with about 10 different guys.” While she encounters plenty of prospects in Philly — men she works with, men from her martial arts school, men on her community soccer team — she prefers to do her hunting further afield.