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IKEA Acquires TaskRabbit, Ventures Into ‘Gig Economy’

In a bid to offer products alongside services, Sweden-based Ikea Group has bought startup TaskRabbit Inc., which helped herald the decade to the so-called gig economy.

Janina Lim – Fourth Estate Contributor

Delft, Netherlands (4E) – In a bid to offer products alongside services, Sweden-based Ikea Group has bought startup TaskRabbit Inc., which helped herald the decade to the so-called gig economy.

The giant home goods chain’s latest acquisition is seen to help it face the challenges of rapid urbanization as well as deal with consumers’ shift to digital shopping.

“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. 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 to meet the needs of today’s customer,” said Jesper Brodin, President and CEO of IKEA Group, in a statement.

The terms of the deal such as the price was not disclosed but TaskRabbit will remain an independent entity.

As early as April this year, the San Francisco-based startup hinted on considering a sale to an interested unnamed buyer.

In November 2016, the IKEA Group started a successful pilot with TaskRabbit which enabled furniture-assembly services by Taskers in IKEA stores in London, in line with the former’s recent expansion in the city.

IKEA Group owns and operates 357 IKEA stores in 29 countries and operates a growing ecommerce business with over two billion annual visits to IKEA.com.

“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 TaskRabbit Chief Executive Officer Stacy Brown-Philpot who will continue to run the business.

Founded in 2008, TaskRabbit pioneered the model of linking clients with skilled Taskers to handle everyday needs such as furniture assembly, moving and packing, general handyman work, and other home improvement services.

In recent year, the startup app struggled to become lucrative. Brown-Philpot had expressed confidence that the firm would turn to profit by end-2016 but eventually shied away from her forecast.

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