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How to Lose Funds and Infuriate Users: Couchsurfing, a Cautionary Tale From the "Sharing Economy"

BY Sam Roudman | Thursday, November 7 2013

Embroidered Couchsurfing SpongeBob, by Courtney Leigh, 2010 (http://www.flickr.com/photos/courtney-leigh/5136501557/)

Couchsurfing is a global travel network founded in 2004. It claims six million adventurous travelers and hospitable hosts, together envisioning “a world made better by travel and travel made richer by connection.” But on October 10, the company cut that connection with 40 percent of its staff, and its CEO Tony Espinoza, who just took over the company 18 months ago, announced he was stepping down. Adding to its trouble, according to TechCrunch, is the fact that the company, which has raised over $22 million since becoming a for-profit more than two years ago, is burning through $800,000 a month. How did the once-successful community platform go south? Read More

First POST: Profanity

BY Micah L. Sifry | Thursday, October 31 2013

The Washington Post exposes the NSA's hacking of Google and Yahoo; the US promises, yet again, to overhaul its FOIA administration; the states start to pass their own new privacy laws; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Boom

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, October 16 2013

Glenn Greenwald's leaving The Guardian for a new journalism start-up financed by Pierre Omidyar; news from the Code for America Summit; HealthCare.gov's dismal sign-up numbers; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Greased

BY Micah L. Sifry | Friday, October 11 2013

Politifact branching out with Punditfact; why you shouldn't "drunk dial" random Members of Congress; why "greasing" IT contracts led to the HealthCare.gov mess; and much, much more. Read More

First POST: Longform

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Exclusively for Personal Democracy Plus subscribers: Steven Johnson responds to Henry Farrell's critique of the "Tech Intellectuals"; Twitter's Evan Williams lays out his vision of the future of media; Freshman Rep. Justin Amash gets some respect for his NSA fight; and much, much more. Read More

Tom Slee and the Omidyar Network: Six Degrees of Skepticism

BY Micah L. Sifry | Monday, September 16 2013

Is the Omidyar Network the new Standard Oil?

Tom Slee has penned a tough critique of the Omidyar Network's philanthropy, titled "Six Degrees of Omidyar," arguing that its venture capital investments "time and time again" have damaged "commons-based sharing" projects, pointing to investees like microfinance fund Unitus, Global Giving, CouchSurfing, Code for America and Change.org. As with all of Slee's writing, the piece is worth reading. But I think he's painting with far too broad a brush and has cherry-picked his evidence. Read More

WeGov

WeGov News: New Staff, New Partnerships, New Backing!

BY Micah L. Sifry | Wednesday, June 5 2013

techPresident's WeGov section is bulking up with a new staff editor, an expanded editorial mandate, a partnership with the engine room, and fresh infusions of support from the Omidyar Network and the United Nations Foundation. Read More

Change.org Lands $15 Million From Omidyar

BY Sarah Lai Stirland | Tuesday, May 21 2013

Change.org CEO Ben Rattray: "We'd never sell. We'd never go public." Photo: Personal Democracy Forum

Change.org capped an extraordinary few years of growth Tuesday with the announcement that it has landed a $15 million investment led by the Omidyar Network. Read More

British Civic Hacking Group MySociety Gets $2.9 Million Grant

BY Miranda Neubauer | Wednesday, June 27 2012

The Omidyar Network* announced today that it is giving a grant of $2.9 million to mySociety, according to a blog post by Tom Steinberg, the founder and director of mySociety. The grant is tied to mySociety's goal of internationalizing its existing British websites, to help others around the world build sites and applications promoting transparency and accountability, growing a commercial team to help cover the project's as-yet-unfinanced costs, and to grow the impact of the organization's UK sites. Read More

WeGov

Announcing "WeGov," Covering Technology in Politics and Governance Worldwide

BY Micah L. Sifry and Andrew Rasiej | Monday, April 16 2012

Welcome to WeGov, the newest experiment at Personal Democracy Media and a special new section of techPresident that we are launching today with the financial support of the Omidyar Network. This new section of techPresident has a simple but ambitious goal: To report on the stories of efforts around the world to reshape politics and governance using technology, and to assess the impact of those efforts. Read More