TECHNOLOGY

Home furnishings giant enters ‘gig economy’ with acquisition

BY Deena M. Amato-McCoy

Ikea Group has entered the booming market for on-demand services.

The home furnishings giant is acquiring TaskRabbit, an on-demand services platform company that connects customers with workers, called "taskers," that handle everyday needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman repairs, and home improvements. The price of the transaction was not revealed.

Based in San Francisco, TaskRabbit will operate as an independent company within the Ikea Group. It will also continue to partner with other retailers and commercial partners.

Founded in 2008, TaskRabbit is regarded as one of the pioneers of the "gig economy." Over 60,000 independent workers use its platform.

For Ikea, the acquisition enables the company to give its customers online access to “freelancers” skilled in furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman work, and home improvements, among other services. Equally important, it bolsters the retailer's defenses against Amazon, which debuted its own marketplace of service providers, Amazon Home Services, in 2015.

The deal, which is expected to close in October, stems from a pilot Ikea and TaskRabbit launched in November 2016. Through the partnership, Ikea offered furniture-assembly services by TaskRabbit’s workers to its customers.

“In a fast changing retail environment, we continuously strive to develop new and improved products and services to make our customers’ lives a little bit easier,” said Jesper Brodin, president and CEO of Ikea Group. “Entering the on-demand, sharing economy enables us to support that. We will be able to learn from TaskRabbit’s digital expertise, while also providing Ikea customers additional ways to access flexible and affordable service solutions.”

Ikea owns and operates 357 stores in 29 countries, an e-commerce business. TaskRabbit has a presence in 40 cities around the United States and in London.

"With Ikea Group ownership, TaskRabbit could realize even greater opportunities increasing earning potential of Taskers and connecting consumers to a wide range of affordable services," said Stacy Brown-Philpot, TaskRabbit CEO.

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