Ikea buys ‘gig economy’ start-up TaskRabbit

TaskRabbit Ikea ARTaskRabbit, one of the best-known startups in the so-called ‘gig economy’ – that links freelance workers with jobs, from handymen to movers to assistants – has been bought by Ikea, according to Recode.

The contract labour marketplace firm has raised about $50m since it was founded nine years ago. Sources told Recode that TaskRabbit will become an independent subsidiary within Ikea and that its chief executive Stacy Brown-Philpot and its staff would remain.

Ikea would will add capital to the company, although that amount is unknown. TaskRabbit, which is now profitable, will also be able to strike other partnerships, such as one it already has with Amazon.

The purchase of TaskRabbit was fuelled by Ikea’s need to bolster its digital customer service capabilities to better compete with rivals likes Amazon, which has stepped up its home goods and installation services.

TaskRabbit had already struck a pilot partnership with Ikea around furniture assembly in the UK and also had marketed its workers’ ability to put together Ikea items in the US and elsewhere.

But a purchase of TaskRabbit will get Ikea even more deeply into technology, although it has not been without some tech innovation. The company — which has sales of more the $36bn annually and 183,000 workers — recently announced an initiative to shift its 389 stores worldwide to electric car transportation and infrastructure.

And this week, it released an augmented reality app for the Apple iPhone, called “Ikea Place.” Using the phone’s camera, a customer can scan a room and then place Ikea furniture virtually to see how it looks.

The collaboration was announced at Apple’s Worldwide Developer’s Conference in June. “I think that augmented reality and virtual reality will be a total game changer for retail in the same way as the Internet,” said the company’s digital transformation lead. Michael Valdsgaard. ” Only this time much faster.”