Ikea buys TaskRabbit, “gig economy” pioneer

NEW YORK — Ikea is making moves so you don’t have to assemble a sofa or bookcase yourself.

The furniture seller said Thursday that it is buying online on-demand services platform TaskRabbit, which lets users hire people to help them move, clean up the house or assemble furniture.

Ikea said it offered TaskRabbit services in its stores in London last year and plans to roll out the service in U.S. stores and more U.K. locations. More countries may be added later. The company says when the deal is completed, which is expected to happen next month, TaskRabbit will remain an independent company within Ikea and stay based in San Francisco.

 “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 IKEA CEO Jesper Brodin in a statement. 

Ikea, which has nearly 360 stores around the world, did not say how much it is paying for TaskRabbit. 

Recode, which first reported the deal, said TaskRabbit has raised roughly $50 million in venture capital. 

TaskRabbit is a pioneer of the “gig economy,” in which independent service providers and other workers can hire themselves out. The burgeoning sector, powered by the internet and mobile technology, is credited for helping consumers find lower-cost services. But worker advocates contend that the rise of such “contingent” labor, which typically doesn’t offer health and retirement benefits, is also contributing to widespread economic insecurity in the U.S.

According to Recode, Ikea wants to use TaskRabbit to strengthen its digital customer service as it competes with Amazon (AMZN) and other companies that offer home-installation services. 

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