What happened shocked me. Days passed. Then a week. Not a single request, Despite 179 positive references and 42 vouches, no one wanted to stay with me. I asked my long-time Couchsurfing friends in the city and found it was the same for them. Sparse requests, and those that came, poorly-written, often from empty profiles. For others, guests who never showed up, messages that were never responded to. The site had changed…
I knew the situation was bad, but this was unexpected. The heart of Couchsurfing – hosting and surfing – was disappearing, and in the very same city where the site has its headquarters.
— Lost Roots: The Failure of For-Profit Couchsurfing | BootsnAll
Internet services live and die by their users. Make them happy, give them something great, and give them the opportunity to give you money, and you have a business. Couchsurfing could have been a small, sustainable business, but the promise of big riches caused the company and its founders to lose sight of who and what they were.
Not everything needs to have a billion dollar valuation and an L-shaped growth curve. Moderate success is still success.