Today, we announced that we have raised $15 million in funding. This is exciting news! It means that we can keep our energy where it belongs: on rebuilding the website and enhancing our mobile apps so that they better support our community. This financing gives us the time we need to approach that project carefully and strategically.
Of course you’ll want to know: Who’s funding us now? Are they trustworthy?
Yes; we’re happy to have found partners who are familiar with and supportive of our mission. Our lead investor and newest member of our Board of Directors, Jonathan Teo of General Catalyst Partners, has been a CouchSurfing member since 2009. “I’ve had a number of meaningful connections with people and places around the country and around the world thanks to CouchSurfing,” he says. “I know that the talents and resources of the General Catalyst team can help bring the same inspiring experiences to even more people.”
We’re also excited to receive backing from Shervin Pishevar of Menlo Ventures, who has participated in funding other sharing economy organizations, like TaskRabbit (which lets people hire strangers to complete small jobs for them) and Getaround (a peer-to-peer car sharing company). And our initial investors from last year, Matt Cohler at Benchmark Capital and Todor Tashev at Omidyar Network, are also continuing their support.
$15 million gives us enough money to maintain our current staff and add new employees without needing to worry about our finances. Which is great, because there are two things we know for sure right now:
1. The CouchSurfing website, as it currently exists, needs a lot of help. It’s unstable and not very easy to use.
2. CouchSurfing is amazing because it’s free and based on generosity.
This new round of funding gives us the opportunity to deal with the first reality without messing around with the second, and for that we are extremely pleased. Our priority is to make sure that we’re serving the community as best we can. And we now have enough money in the bank that we can give that our full attention.
We’re lucky to exist in a really creative, experimental environment here in California and we’ve found investors who believe in us and our ideas.
So we’re focusing all our energy on making a website that’s a more sustainable home for our community: one that works reliably, and easily. It’s going to be a big project, and one that will take us a lot of time, but we’re now in a position where we can take that time and do it right.
Within the next few months, you’ll start seeing changes on the website. We’ll be launching something new to CouchSurfing: place pages. Local communities will have one centralized place to share their photos, discussions, and things to do. It’s just the first step towards making it easier to do what you need to do on the website, so you can spend less time surfing the web and more time surfing couches.