CouchSurfing Deletes Itself, Shuts Down

This is just ridiculous. Three year old CouchSurfing, a beloved service used by some 90,000 members, had multiple database crashes, critical parts of the software and data were irretrievably lost, and the backups weren’t performed properly. They are not rebuilding the service. They literally put themselves out of business.

CouchSurfing allowed people to register their home and offer free accomodation to travelers. Creator Casey Fenton, sent the email below to all users of the service (I guess they didn’t lose that data at least).

Dear CouchSurfers,

Two days ago CouchSurfing experienced what could be described as the perfect storm. The database administrators we hired made two critical mistakes. First, we had a major, avoidable hard drive crash. Secondly, the incremental back-ups weren’t executed in the correct manner, and twelve of our most important data files didn’t survive.

I have been working non-stop trying to repair the data, but as difficult as it is for me to say, it has become clear that certain essential pieces are not recoverable. This crash happened at a particularly vulnerable time, in a transition between two back-up methods. If the crash had happened a week ago, or next week, we would have had a different outcome.

It is with a heavy heart that I face the truth of this situation. CouchSurfing as we knew it doesn’t exist anymore. We’ve had an amazing two and a half years.

Members write “CouchSurfing has changed my life” and I know what they mean, it has certainly changed mine and I am eternally grateful.

My vision transformed. CouchSurfing was born out of a dream I had to meet the most interesting people in world and experience their cultures, and it grew into a living, thriving family of almost a hundred thousand. This community has blossomed in beautiful ways I hadn’t even anticipated. It was no longer about what I got to experience, but rather, what genuine, heartfelt good this community can offer the world. We have all opened not only our homes, but also our hearts, our lives. In sharing important moments, deep and meaningful connections have crossed oceans, continents and cultures. I saw in CS, in you, the power to change not only they way we travel, but change the world itself. Thank you, CouchSurfers. You have shown me more than I could have even known. Your generosity and spirit is a gift to humanity.

I have devoted the last three years of my life to CouchSurfing. I have literally poured every cent I have into the site. I’ve sacrificed my health, my time, and my own ability to travel and meet people. In many ways I’ve put my life and wanderlust on hold to build this network. I’m not complaining; it’s been a fantastic ride. As devastating as it is to consider, it looks like the ride is over.

Life is continuously changing, evolving, dying and being reborn. After a fire, the earth is replenished; after a storm, the air is cleared. It feels to me like this loss of CouchSurfing is how it’s meant to be. This crash is like a sign from the universe. Too many random factors aligned to make it as damaging as it is, and though I’ve tried everything I can and engaged the best and brightest database managers, there’s just no way to get it back. In many respects it’s heartbreaking, but at the same time, what we’ve built together is not dead, it lives on in each of us. It lives in the connections we’ve fostered and the culture we’ve created. I want us all to take this CouchSurfing spirit and continue the mission out in the world. We’ve all experienced this common vision and the potential it has to transform the way people relate to each other. Now it is time for all of us to not bury the dream, but rather nurture it’s growth in our own ways, in new explorations and ventures. We all own a piece of the CouchSurfing flame, it’s up to us to keep the fire going and light the world. So let’s do it, let’s light the world! What will you do with your flame?

Goodnight, CouchSurfing. May our flames burn bright.

I love you,

If you wish to send your thoughts, encouragement or positive messages, contact us at

CouchSurfing enters the TechCrunch DeadPool in the most absurd fashion yet. Thanks to David Weekly, creator of another company in the DeadPool (and one doing quite well), for sending this to me.