“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.
“He has a studio and was hosting two girls from France.” He slept on an inflatable air mattress with one girl, while his friend shared his bed with the other. Fenton soon realized people all over the world might not mind sharing their extra space gratis while making new friends in the process.
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.
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Members can request a couch, host a traveler, or find new friends to meet up with locally.
Riccardo agrees to host only female travelers and stipulates that they be younger than him.
Today, each of the site’s 7 million members has a unique profile which reads like a personal ad, highlighting interests, locations traveled, details about their accommodations and, most important, references.
This system allows friends you’ve made globally or locally to vouch for you and the unlikelihood of you being a serial killer.
“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.He accepts them based on their attractiveness “of course,” but physical appearance isn’t the only criterion.“I’ve seen cute girls that have boring pictures and I’m like, ‘You look boring, sorry.’ At the end of the day I’m going to spend three days with you.It’s important to stay professional, and guys I train with need to see me as a fighter and a teammate or it gets too complicated.” A Couchsurfer since 2009, Jessie has traveled the globe using the service.But it’s not a dating site, she insists, “It’s a social site. “I have high standards, I don’t just sleep with any guy I think is hot.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.