24. January 2012–
Point Nine Capital, the Berlin-based venture firm has announced an investment in CouchSurfing, the social networking site that hooks up travellers on a budget to a global network of hosts, and the “world’s largest travel community”.
CouchSurfing co-founder Casey Fenton was attending the DLD Conference in Munich this week, where he confirmed the investment for the site – which now has 3.5 million registered members in over 81,000 global destinations.
Point Nine, an early-stage investor formed in Berlin in 2011, is the first European investor to back CouchSurfing, the biggest hospitality website on the web with over 30million daily page views. The investment is an extension of the $7.6M Series A round raised from Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network last year.
The sum invested by Point Nine is undisclosed, but has been described by Christoph Janz, Founder and Managing Partner of Point Nine Capital as “relatively small” compared to the Benchmark funding: “The main reason for us to invest is to get involved and for CouchSurfing to get involved with a European investor”.
Janz went on to say: “CouchSurfing brought ‘collaborative consumption’ to the Internet, years before that term was coined.
“More than 3.5 million ‘CouchSurfers’ have turned CouchSurfing into a thriving community that is committed to fostering engaging and inspiring cross-cultural experiences. We’re thrilled about the opportunity to support this unique movement.”
When asked about the reports that some hard-core CouchSurfers have complained that venture backing goes against the CouchSurfing ethos, Janz commented: “This was a very small amount of users – the founders are very and open and transparent with the community and even they will see that this is the right thing for the company”.
Daniel Hoffer, co-founder and CEO of CouchSurfing added: “The CouchSurfing community is made up of members from more than 81,000 cities, with Berlin ranking as the number four city worldwide. Although we had not initially planned on extending the round, we were excited to discover a strong connection and mutual passion among the investors at Point Nine Capital for CouchSurfing’s social mission and future.
We are pleased to enhance our international perspective by partnering with such a capable team in one of the most active European cities in our community, and are looking forward to working closely with them to better serve our members in Europe and beyond.”
Boss of CouchSurfing Casey Fenton also stated that the company, as yet a non-profit organisation, will be experimenting with a number of revenue models in the future.