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Do It For Me

Do It For Me

Zaarly Showcases Skills for Hire with the Launch of Zaarly Storefronts

Has baby, will conference. (Photo: BoFishback.com)

When Bo Fishback dropped by the Betabeat offices last December, the 9 million foot tall Zaarly cofounder told us how he had just added 1,250 New York-based small businesses to his burgeoning peer-to-peer local marketplace. That way, service providers like graphic designers and fitness instructors could use Zaarly almost as a lead generation engine for new opportunities nearby.

But from a consumer’s perspective, it wasn’t necessarily obvious whether a trained chef, say, would be responding to your request for a home cooked dinner, or just a neighbor with a beat up copy of the Momofuku cook book. Read More

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Zaarly Moves Its NYC Office to San Francisco, CEO Says It’s ‘Mostly Just Temporary’ [UPDATED]

Back in December, Bo Fishback, CEO of the peer-to-peer marketplace Zaarly, which lets you buy and sell products and services from the people around you, told Betabeat that Zaarly planned to grow its presence in New York City from two full-time employees up to 10 or possibly 30 new staffers.

For the Kansas City-based company, which has raised $15.1 million in a little over a year since it launched, it was a signal of how important New York was both as a market and testing ground. “We hope to learn what we need to know from the New York community to help us go to scale in other cities,” Mr. Fishback told us at the time, along with the news that local staff would be moving into Marc Ecko’s building at 40 West 23rd Street. Mr. Ecko is an investor, along with Ashton Kutcher, Michael Arrington, Crunchfund, and Kleiner Perkins.

But earlier today Betabeat was informed that Zaarly was closing down its New York office. “I’ve heard it’s gone,” said a source. Mr. Fishback confirmed the news, but said it was, “not really intended to be a big deal, and mostly just temporary moves,” he responded by email. Read More

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New ‘Do It For Me’ Startup Done. Lets You Employ the Apple Guy Down the Street

done

Done. is a New York-based startup that connects regular people with other regular people who are willing to pay them to do things. Things like “plan a party,” “learn something,” “help with my pet,” and our favorite, “help with tech,” because everyone knows the best way to get to know your neighbor is to hit them up for IT support.

Done., which raised almost a million in an oversubscribed round last year from investors including Khosla Ventures, Thrive Capital and angels including Harvard Business School professors Bill Sahlman and Joseph Bower, launched with a team of 12 and 100 “doers,” including Apple consultant Brendan Perreault, who in addition to making slow MacBook Pros fast again has the added bonus of being kind of a stud. Read More

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TaskRabbit Launches Public API So You Can Outsource Tasks From Other Platforms

A TaskRabbit person.

TaskRabbit, the happy-go-lucky, hakuna-mata-chanting startup leading the charge for the new do-it-for-me economy, just released a public API to make outsourcing your dirty work even easier. (For the uninitiated, TaskRabbit is part of a growing number of startups that let harried urbanites posts tasks they don’t have time for. Nearby “Rabbits” then bid on completing them.)

The API opens up that peer-to-peer outsourcing function beyond just the TaskRabbit website or mobile app. “Third-party applications around the world now have the ability to integrate with TaskRabbit’s API, allowing their users to seamlessly outsource their to-do workflow via TaskRabbit,” the company wrote on its blog.

As part of the rollout, TaskRabbit also announced three partnerships, including one with YouEye, an online user testing platform, one with Producteev, a task management app, and one with Astrid, the personal organization and group collaboration app. Read More

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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

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TaskRabbit Picks Up a $17.8 M. Series B—and a Vote of Confidence for the Do-It-For-Me Economy

Chad Miller, actor, writer, Rabbit

At midnight on Tuesday, TaskRabbit, the real time peer-to-peer marketplace that lets you outsource your dirty work to nearby “Rabbits,” announced that it raised a eye-popping $17.8 million series B round led by LightSpeed Ventures, the Sand Hill Road firm that also backed DoubleClick.

How thoughtful of TaskRabbit! Now Zaarly doesn’t have to be the only player in the do-it-for-me market with funding in the tens of millions. (In October, Zaarly announced a $14 million round led by Kleiner Perkins.) Betabeat recently profiled both firms in a feature about the rise of the convenience economy. Read More

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Meet Shpoonkle, The Online Marketplace for Unemployed Lawyers

Time to weigh your options

Besides having the most amazingly made-up name we have seen in a while, Shpoonkle is an interesting addition to the new crop of startups focused on creating a peer to peer online marketplace. Betabeat’s Nitasha Tiku just did a big report on the convenience economy fueled by companies like TaskRabbit and Zaarly. Schpoonkle is also looking to match supply and demand, but with a focus on the growing number of unemployed law school graduates. Read More

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Zaarly Gets Office Space in Marc Ecko’s Chelsea Building for Its Budding NYC Hub

The office, circa 2009.

Zaarly’s New York team is about to get a whole lot bigger, from two full-time employees up to a possible ten to 30 employees. To facilitate plans to make New York City an central Zaarly hub, the startup, which is part of a growing crop of companies trying to build a real-time mobile market for people to bid on tasks and goods, has moved from temporary space in Marc Ecko’s building at 40 West 23rd Street into an official office under the same roof.

Back in 2009, when Mr. Ecko’s urban apparel empire was reportedly facing sizable debt post-recession, the 28,000 sq. ft. space, complete with half-size basketball court and a rumored $9 million-a-year lease, was on the market. But perhaps Mr. Ecko has had better luck with his venture capital fund, Artists & Instigators. According to the fund’s website, its portfolio companies claim over $5 billion in revenue.

Both Mr. Ecko and his fund invested in Zaarly’s $14.1 million series A round led by Kleiner Perkins. Read More

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The 25 Most Bizarre Zaarly & TaskRabbit Requests: Get Paid to Do What?

26 Photos

A business partner

Like Craigslist missed connections, the random jobs offered up on sites like TaskRabbit and Zaarly have a certain poetry all their own. They offer a glimpse into someone else’s world, a snapshot that often piques the curiosity. Who is the cute addict that needs a kitten hand-delivered to their office for a lunch time cuddle sesh? Why, exactly, does this personal trainer have to wear holiday-themed gear? And how can anyone afford to pay that much for a cup of coffee?

We’ve put together a list of gigs that might inspire you to day labor, even if you don’t need the money. Read More

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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