CouchSurfing announced today that it has raised a $15 million Series B Round from General Catalyst Partners, Menlo Ventures, Benchmark Capital and Omidyar Network.
The new funding brings the social travel network’s total funds raised in the past year to $22.6 million. CEO Tony Espinoza tells me the company now has nearly 5 million users in more than 93,000 cities after a very successful summer.
Along with its first-impression use of hosting travelers, CouchSurfing boasts over 40,000 interest groups that host activities. The company claims its users have had over 10 million face-to-face experiences in the past year.
“We were not ‘in need of money,’” Espinoza says, explaining that the company was looking to raise in the next few years and the timing ended up working out now. He adds that the company now has the support to stay independent for the long term.
Espinoza joined the company 5 months ago and has focused on “building an amazing toolkit for travelers.” He says CouchSurfing has “quite a bit” of infrastrucutral work to complete to support the next wave of growth.
“The growth will come, as it always has, by word of mouth,” he says, noting that it will remain “a grassroots movement” with the capital and technology to support growth.
“The future of CouchSurfing is in this community,” Managing Director of Menlo Ventures Shervin Pishevar tells me. “I think that’s going to be quite a competitive advantage when you compare it to Airbnb. CouchSurfing turns Airbnb into a hotel chain, to me. Because they don’t have that community.”
Espinoza says the company will be rolling out new mobile and website features, including a new code base to increase speed and reliability and deliver more customized search results, starting in September.