And as VentureBeat reports, just last week CouchSurfing made the bold move to reincorporate as a for-profit B corporation and begin its new identity with a $7.6 million investment from Benchmark Capital.
The big move, which involves establishing a physical headquarters in San Francisco, will also likely expand CouchSurfing’s loyal 3M+ user base.
How CouchSurfing Works
“At CouchSurfing International, we envision a world where everyone can explore and create meaningful connections with the people and places they encounter…” – CouchSurfing mission statement
New users can sign up using the simplified sign-up page and can choose to verify their address (which requires using a credit card and having a postcard with a code sent to your address) and are invited to make a recommended minimum donation to the organization, as a good faith show of their desire to be part of the couchsurfing community.
Once you’re on, you can search for “couches” in various cities. CouchSurfing users are peer-reviewed or “vouched for” through badges on the site. And the site mentions multiple tools and measures that have been implemented to ensure safety but clearly states (in multiple places) that surfers should use their individual best judgment when making the decision to surf, host, or meet up with individuals from the site.
CouchSurfing as a B Corporation
CouchSurfing explains its decision to incorporate as a B corporation in stating that “as a B (Benefit) Corporation, CouchSurfing will be part of a group of innovative businesses that deliver products and services with a commitment to social and environmental responsibility, transparency, fair work conditions, and doing good for the world.”
They mention that incorporating as a for-profit entity will better position them to receive funding, make improvements to the website, and evolve their systems along with their community’s needs.
CouchSurfing’s decision to incorporate as B corporation speaks to their commitment to their initial mission and vision, and to keeping with the ideals of the organization. As they mention in a released statement,”Becoming a B Corporation makes us accountable to our core values. And you can check out the full audit that B Lab, the non-profit that issues B Corp certifications, recently completed of our social responsibility.”
What won’t change?
CouchSurfing promises that their mission and vision will stay the same. And that “CouchSurfing will never make you pay to host and surf”.