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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.
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.
Despite an initial media storm that included some impressive viral action, no one really expected much from BWF.
When I tried it out, the extremely rough app listed my grandpa and multiple gay besties as potential matches, and like many tech writers, I wrote it off a silly attempt by a few computer science geeks hoping to get laid.
But Hot or Not welcomes anyone over 13, the absolute minimum age set by a 1998 law that governs children’s online privacy.
Down, the app formerly known as “Bang With Friends,” avows that its Web site isn’t “structured to attract” children, but never actually says they can’t come in.
Hot or Not is one of several hook-up apps that welcomes both children and adults. Young/Detroit News via AP) Zach Anderson, an Indiana teenager, was recently sentenced to 25 years on that state’s sex offender registry after he slept with a 14-year-old who told him she was 17.
Bloggers like Maverick Traveler will help you spot the “8 Signs of a Slutty Couch Surfer Girl” by decoding her profile, and female-centric advice site You Queen has even offered tips on “How to Use Couch Surfing as a Dating Site and Get Away with It.” Meanwhile, a site called Couch Bangs.com, which declares that “Couchsurfing isn’t just for Couchsurfing,” offers a forum for proud couch-cuddlers to share their experiences via short posts with titles like “French Girl in Istanbul” and “Brazilian Girl in New York.” Couch Surfing’s Community Guidelines explicitly warn against contacting other members for dating, noting, “we will consider this harassment” — albeit without stipulating what the penalties are for violating this rule.