SAN FRANCISCO--(BUSINESS WIRE)--CouchSurfing International, a global online network that builds real life communities for the travel-minded to discover and connect with each other, today announced it has closed $7.6 million in funding from Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network. This also marks CouchSurfing’s transition from operating as a non-profit to its new status as a B Corporation – a new type of corporation that uses the power of business to create public benefit. CouchSurfing today also announced that co-founder Daniel Hoffer has taken on the role of President and CEO and that Matt Cohler, general partner at Benchmark Capital, has joined its Board of Directors, along with Todor Tashev, investment partner at Omidyar Network, as a board observer.
“With its network of more than three million members, CouchSurfing has tapped into a passionate and highly engaged community at the nexus of the social, mobile and local trends,” said Matt Cohler, general partner, Benchmark Capital and CouchSurfing board member. “We see an enormous opportunity, and couldn’t be more excited to back this team as the market for socially connected travel experiences starts to hit a tipping point.”
CouchSurfing combines social networking technology with cultural exchange to create inspiring experiences and meaningful connections which increase global knowledge and understanding. Since its inception in 2004, CouchSurfing has evolved from a non-profit connecting travelers with local hosts, into a mission-driven, global community of travel-minded people engaging in thousands of connections, homestays, meetings and events every day in locations all over the world. With more than three million community members dedicated to cultural exchange and creating experiences that contribute to personal development, CouchSurfing has enabled over 5.6 million unique culturally-infused experiences and over 3.5 million friendships.
“CouchSurfing has managed to create a large scale trust network between perfect strangers, coming from varied cultures and spread around the world,” said Karen Cook, world renowned trust expert, author and Director of the Institute for Research in the Social Sciences at Stanford University. “While we are only just beginning to understand and realize the full value and benefits of trust networks, there is a wealth of data demonstrating how relationships formed through social media are becoming the source of new types of social movements and communities all over the world, and have the potential to alter international political, social and economic landscapes.”
CouchSurfing recently enhanced its experience through Facebook integration, enabling community members to connect with their Facebook friends and friends of friends directly on CouchSurfing. This enhancement is the first in a series of product updates planned to improve the user experience and to better enable users to connect with other members of the CouchSurfing community at home and abroad. With this funding, CouchSurfing will continue to invest in improvements and additional enhancements – many of which have been requested by the community – in the weeks and months to come.
“CouchSurfing is much more than a website that helps facilitate overnight accommodations, it is a thriving social community committed to fostering engaging and inspiring cross-cultural experiences,” said Daniel Hoffer, president, CEO and co-founder, CouchSurfing. “This funding will enable us to improve and grow our network while better serving our members so that we can continue to build a more tolerant and respectful global community.”
About CouchSurfing International:
CouchSurfing is a global cultural exchange network that connects travelers with locals in 248 countries and territories worldwide focused on creating unique experiences. Founded in 2004, and established in 2011 as a B Corporation dedicated to creating public benefit, CouchSurfing’s global community of more than three million members have reported nearly 20 million days of cultural exchange experiences and over 3.5 million new friendships formed. The CouchSurfing community is made up of members from more than 81,000 cities with more than 342 languages shared. Backed by Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network, CouchSurfing is headquartered in San Francisco, California. For more information and to start participating in the CouchSurfing community, please visit: http://www.couchsurfing.org/.