Founder of Couchsurfing International
Casey Fenton (born 1978) is an American internet entrepreneur and founder of CouchSurfing.
Fenton's career in politics includes work as the director of Internet strategy for the governor of Alaska, Tony Knowles during his unsuccessful 2004 United States Senate bid, and work as a legislative aide for the Alaska State House Minority Leader, 2002-2004.
Fenton created the online social hospitality network, the Couchsurfing Project which he began working on in 1999. The idea came after finding a flight from Boston to Iceland. He hacked into the University of Iceland's student directory, then sent emails to 1,500 students asking them if he can stay with them instead of sleeping in a youth hostel. Fenton got "about 50 to 100 responses". among whom was a "socialite and a nationally known R. & B. star." In the flight back to Boston, he began to build the CouchSurfing project. In early 2003, he launched the CouchSurfing site.
In 2011, Casey Fenton became controversial when Couchsurfing became a commercial enterprise with B Corporation (certification). Some users of the community then blamed him for appropriating for personal enrichment purposes the assets of the organization (including the code of the site and its database) developed previously by a voluntary community. Fenton and his Co-founder Daniel Hoffer had worked for over 5 years though with the IRS to gain full 501 c3 status but the IRS denied their efforts because they classified couchsurfing as nothing more than cheap travel.
Couchsurfing currently has over 15 million members worldwide. Fenton served as executive director of Couchsurfing until 2012 and the founding chairman of the board.Since exiting his position as CEO of Couchsurfing, he has also been a part of multiple startups including Wonder App and Upstock.
Fenton has spoken on the subject of trust at TEDxBologna, and human ego.
In 2010, Fenton was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship for contributing new ideas for improving human well-being.