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(Riccardo and other Couchsurfing users quoted in this article asked to be identified by pseudonyms.) On the business front, the crowdsourced hospitality site has been experiencing a rough patch lately.
After a controversial transition to a for-profit model in 2011, which brought million in funding in the past two years, growing pains have set in.
“I’m always sending him links like, ‘Hey, do you like this chick? ’ Then he always asks to do Facetime because he wants to see them.” “The first time,” he says, leaning over his beer, “I had two girls that stayed … She was in the process of moving to New York and needed a place to stay for four days while she looked for a permanent home.
“We went out for drinks the first night,” he says, “and I hit on her. She, was like ‘No, no, no—I don’t want to make it awkward.’ I was like well, whatever, so we kept on drinking, dancing, and having fun.” Riccardo later learned he’d made a critical error.
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.
Although the company has initiated a doubling down on mobile, the experience of users like Riccardo might suggest another path to profitability. The almost decade-old Couchsurfing, which is available in 100,000 cities across the globe, is becoming the go-to hookup app for a certain class of young world travelers.
But with anything social, there is sometimes a spark. But once there is a connection, there isn’t much holding me back.” For instance, this guy in Wales.
“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.
His friend later advised him on a more direct strategy.
“Come, get in my bed,” he’ll say, just as his guest is preparing to hit the sack.
Riccardo G.’s profile on Couch Surfing.com, the website that partners intrepid wanderers with willing hosts, notes that he lives in the “best neighborhood to go out and have drinks,” that he offers a “cozy/clean/nice sofa/couch” and that he’ll even let you bring your “small dog, if you just can’t live without him.” He describes himself as “amazing, outgoing, funny, smart” and says his interests include friends, eating, drinking, the gym and puppies.
His photos show the good-humored Latin American native — dark, handsome, and fit — in exotic destinations around the world, from Cairo to Capri.