Selin Öner (Wirtschaftsniversität Wien): Lessons Learned from the Couchsurfing Platform

In her talk, Selin Oner from WU Wien will present lessons learned from the distinctive evolution of the Couschsurfing platform. She will show how the p2p-platform has maintained through voluntary work for such a long time and the limitations that challenged its continuation.

Couchsurfing (CS), a 16-year old social travel network, is one of the first peer-to-peer (p2p) online sharing platforms and the very first p2p hospitality platform, whose evolution carries certain peculiarities for a better understanding of the potential platform structures and risks in the sharing economy. CS relies on a non-commercial sharing between peers in contrary to its commodified follower, Airbnb, and essentially to the common transactional nature of the platform economy, and also the platform next to the founder team was developed and sustained by a worldwide team of volunteers, who helped the platform flourish again with no monetary rewards until a conversion into a for-profit in 2011 that alienated them. With these attributes, CS carries multiple links to gift-economy and digital commons. This presentation – based on a former case study as part of my doctoral dissertation – aims to present the lessons learned from this distinctive platform evolution and to contribute to the understanding of how such a p2p platform could be even maintained through voluntary work for such a long time and the limitations that challenged its continuation.

About the presenter: 

Selin Öner is currently a guest researcher at the Vienna University of Economics and Business (WU Vienna). She has an interdisciplinary background with Bachelor in Economics, Master of Science in Finance, and a PhD in Communication. Her research interests cover Sharing Economy, Crowdfunding, trust in online P2P-platforms and particularly alternative organizational forms along with the platforms' roles and responsibilities. In addition, she has 13 years of professional experience in Equity Research and Corporate Finance & Fundraising and also acts as an Independent Expert for European Commission-Innovation Council’s Accelerator Program.

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