This morning, Couchsurfing’s leadership team announced some changes to the staff that we wanted to pass along to the community. A letter from Tony Espinoza:
Dear Couchsurfing -
Couchsurfing began as a global movement, and I am honored to have been part of its transformation into a mission-driven startup with a deep sense of purpose. The past 18 months serving as CEO have yielded some of the most meaningful and powerful experiences of my 20 year career building technology. Today as I step down as CEO I’m proud that Couchsurfing is poised for the future with a great team, substantial funding, strong investor backing, and a passionate, growing community.
I remain in awe of the CS community which has grown in every dimension, doubling in size to 7M members just since I joined the company. Along the way we raised significant financial support from investors who are aligned with the CS mission to make the world better through travel and travel richer through connection.
Late last year, I realized Couchsurfing’s rapid organic growth required that we crystalize and strengthen our core values — the foundation for everything we do. It was at this time that I reached out to long-time colleague, Jen Billock, whose proven track record as a compassionate startup leader made her the perfect candidate to focus on our community and transform the way we work from the inside out. She immediately championed the voice of the community and led key initiatives such as the new Ambassador program and an integrated approach to all communication channels, building the scaffolding for Couchsurfing’s evolving brand and member experience.
The board of directors and I are pleased to announce Jen’s appointment as interim CEO. The board will soon commence a search for a long-term CEO, and Jen has graciously accepted our request for her to step in at this important moment. We have a great deal of faith in her ability to lead the company through the next phase. I look forward to continuing to partner with her in the coming months as we double down on mobile and continue driving Couchsurfing’s mission.
Please join me in welcoming Jen to her new role!
A response from Couchsurfing’s interim CEO Jennifer Billock:
Thank you, Tony. I’m deeply grateful to have spent the past 11 months working so closely with you, and look forward to our continued work together.
And to the rest of the Couchsurfing team…
I came here to Couchsurfing to work with Tony. It’s not every day that one gets to work for a trusted friend and mentor. I am grateful to Tony for that fateful text message (I leapt at the opportunity via text before even speaking to him) because I landed a job that I knew I would LOVE, and it’s changed my life for the better in countless ways. I’m most grateful for being given the opportunity to work with such a talented team in service of Couchsurfing’s inspiring and passionate community. Working with a stellar team is what gets me up in the morning. And to be able to do that for Couchsurfing and its community has been both amazing and humbling. There is nothing in the world that I value more than the power of human connection, and, like a good tech start-up junkie, I believe in the power of technology to facilitate that and to make the world a more open place. Couchsurfing does that in profound ways. I have the pleasure of seeing it every day. Under Tony’s leadership, the global CS community has doubled, which has been incredible to watch.
I’m honored to be offered this opportunity, and to shepherd Couchsurfing, along with all of you, as the board conducts a search for a long-term CEO. Thanks for being here with me. I look forward to spending time with you all in the next few days as we continue to build momentum. My door is always open, and I’m always happy to talk, day or night.