Do It For Me

TaskRabbit Acquires SkillSlate For an Undisclosed Sum [Updated]

Sorry, Chad, we're now using your photo for all TaskRabbit news.

Once upon a time in a real-time peer-to-peer marketplace, an auction-based website for local skills met an auction-based platform for local tasks, fell in love and got acquired! At least that’s how TaskRabbit and SkillSlate might tell it to their grandkids. That is if this outsourcing your dirty work business catches on.

This morning, TaskRabbit, the San Francisco-based company that helps users find nearby “Rabbits” to do unwanted tasks officially announced that it had acquired SkillSlate, a New York-based company that helps users find people with skills they need, such as fire breathing and personal chefery. Combined they hope to form a national “service network.”

Neither startup is currently disclosing the acquisition price. But reached by email earlier this morning, SkillSlate co-founder and CEO Bartek Ringwelski told us: “Let’s just say the last few months have been busy.  I think I may even have hinted about consolidation in the market when we talked a couple months ago :-)” Read More

Do It For Me

Brother, Can You Spare Some Time? Zaarly, TaskRabbit and the Rise of the Convenience Economy

Illustration by Oliver Munday

Chad Miller likes to think of running errands for strangers on TaskRabbit as a quasi-religious experience—or at least as close to spiritual as a gay former Southern Baptist from West Texas is likely to find in New York. Mr. Miller is a 38-year-old Columbia graduate who acts, writes and works full-time managing outreach for the university’s Arts Initiative. He signed up for TaskRabbit as his “tertiary job” in September, shortly after the Boston-based startup launched in New York.

“This is going to be incredibly gay as I’m saying it,” Mr. Miller laughed, “but it’s very hakuna matata, Disney-fied—you put it out there and you get a little back. The karma piece is really nice.”

Along with a bumper crop of like-minded companies, such as Zaarly, Fancy Hands and Agent Anything, that have entered the New York market in the past year or so, TaskRabbit offers an updated play on Craigslist for the iPhone-era: buyers post the dirty work they want to get done and nearby “Rabbits” bid on the jobs. Service requests range from the sophisticated—“Motivate me to write a book :)” read a recent TaskRabbit request from Midtown—to the menial. “$50 for a Massage,” a Zaarly user on the West Side posted in November. “General massage,” the ad elaborated, tersely, in the description. For the most part, however, Rabbits are asked to perform domestic drudgery: assembling Ikea furniture tops the list.

It’s easy to see why democratizing the personal assistant might do well in New York, a city largely unburdened by hang-ups about, say, paying $20 to avoid wasting time in a Laundromat, even when one’s budget barely permits it.

In the past three months, Mr. Miller has made a little over $2,000 on the kind of irksome chores overextended urbanites are eager to slough off on someone else, including driving strangers to JFK, waiting in line for hours to save someone’s seat for a Conan taping and lugging furniture to a fourth-floor walk-up. The money’s nice and all, but to hear Mr. Miller tell it, the appeal doesn’t sound far off from “Love thy neighbor.” Read More

Delivery From Inconvenience

Zaarly, the Marketplace for Outsourcing Local Errands, Picks Up $14 Million and Meg Whitman

Mr. Fishback, via Crunchbase

It looks like a few big names have picked their horse they want to bet on in the convenience economy. And then saddled that horse up with bags of cash.

Today Zaarly, the marketplace that matches people who have tasks they need to get done with people willing to do them (for a price and within the specified time frame), just announced it picked up $14 million investment round led by Kleiner Perkins. For comparison TaskRabbit, one of Zaarly’s many competitors, raised a more modest series A at $5 million in May.

Zaarly, which counts Michael Arrington, Ashton Kutcher and AngelList’s Naval Ravikant as seed investors, also announced a would-be governor on their board: current HP CEO and former eBay CEO Meg Whitman. Read More

shameless rumormongering

Rumors & Acquisitions: Skills And a Gawker-TechCrunch Blog Fight

tumbeasts

PIVOTS AND PYRES. Pivots are in vogue, and recently-pivoted SkillSlate is taking full advantage of the hype with a self-branded Pivot PartyThe start-up began as a directory-like site for local businesses and entrepreneurs to build a personalized profile that could put them in front of new customers; it was also meant to capture people like personal chefs who would post specific offers for customers to browse. Oops, no one used it because small businesses don’t check their email, and SkillSlate had burned through half its cash. Pivot time!

SkillSlate is now more like a Zaarly-esque, real-time classifieds where customers posts requests and service providers respond. Which is how the start-up nabbed a fire dancer for tonight’s fete. Founder Bartek Ringwelski posted an ad on the site: “I’m throwing a party for 100+ people for our startup on Tuesday, June 26th, and I really want to invite someone different for entertainment. I’m looking for someone who is an expert sword swallower, juggler, magician or has some other amazing talent. In total, I’m looking for 10-15 minutes of you doing your talent. Please provide some background on yourself and, if possible, a video of you doing your thing,” he wrote. He passed on the ventriloquist ($120), the ribbon dancer ($250), and the magician who can swallow razor blades and needles but no sword ($200).

But within 48 hours, he had a fire performer: Matthew Pagliaro, who we see is being paid $75 to do two five-minute performances with fire poi, which are flammable balls on chains. Good thing the pivot party is at the DCTV Firehouse, LOL LOL. 7:30 p.m.

TECH NEWS IS BORING. Adrian Chen’s meta-post about tech blogging and how boring it is and how sleepy it makes him to read infamous Apple fanboy MG Siegler’s thoughts about Facebook’s iPad app–”Make it stop! This is the most boring shit ever”–and what it will look like and when it will come out is a hit! Almost 8,000 views in two hours and a pick-up from TechmemeDave Winer and Slate’s Farhad Manjoo.

Mr. Siegler responded on Tumblr with a post titled, “Rhymes With Douchebag.” Read More