One of the most popular jobs on TaskRabbit, a service that lets you hire workers for quick gigs, is assembling Ikea furniture. So perhaps it’s no surprise that the Swedish retail giant has reportedly acquired the startup for an undisclosed price.
TaskRabbit has only a few dozen full-time employees, but it is a platform for a large number of independent contractors who help customers with all sorts of errands, handymen tasks and, of course, furniture assembly.
According to tech news site Recode, Ikea will treat TaskRabbit, which is reportedly profitable, as an independent subsidiary and keep on its CEO Stacy Brown-Philpot. Recode sees the deal as a strategic acquisition at a time of rapid change in the world of retail and home delivery:
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The purchase of TaskRabbit was fueled by Ikea’s need to further bolster its digital customer service capabilities to better compete with rivals likes Amazon, which has stepped up its home goods and installation offerings. The purchase is Ikea’s first step into the on-demand platform space.
TaskRabbit had already struck a pilot partnership with Ikea around furniture assembly in the United Kingdom and also had marketed its workers ability to put together Ikea items in the U.S. and elsewhere.
TaskRabbit has received investments from a number of prominent venture capital firms, including Shasta Ventures, Lightspeed Venture Partners and Founders Fund.
Currently, customers are able to hire “rabbits” in around 40 U.S. cities.
TaskRabbit is one of the most high profile of the so-called “gig economy” companies, which connect customers with workers on an independent contractor basis. Other such companies include home cleaning service Handy, and the car-hailing services Uber and Lyft.
The “gig” business model is popular with investors because it can grow quickly, and allows companies to try to avoid the costs and legal entanglements of hiring staff. In recent years, however, workers on such services have won several court challenges claiming they are not contractors, but are instead employees.
Ikea did not immediately respond to a request for comment about the acquisition.