IKEA takes first step into gig economy by acquiring TaskRabbit

Swedish furniture company IKEA has bought US start-up TaskRabbit, broadening the services it provides to its customers

  • By Luján Scarpinelli   | Friday, September 29th, 2017

IKEA's deal with TaskRabbit means that customers will be able to hire one of TaskRabbit's freelancers to build their furniture

On September 28, the Swedish home goods giant IKEA announced an agreement to acquire TaskRabbit, a US start-up aimed at connecting people with freelancers willing to run errands and do housework.

The deal is the furniture company’s first move into the gig economy, and is consistent with retailers’ increasing efforts to fight against digital competitors by providing new services.

“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,” said Jesper Brodin, President and CEO of IKEA Group, in a statement.

Although the terms of the deal were not disclosed, San Francisco-based TaskRabbit was valued at around $50m in a financing round in 2015, according to The Wall Street Journal. The deal is expected to be completed in October.

TaskRabbit is a marketplace where people can connect with freelancers who offer themselves for various tasks, such as running errands and doing household chores

TaskRabbit was founded in 2008 by Leah Busque and her husband Kevin. Essentially, TaskRabbit is a marketplace where people can connect with freelancers who offer themselves for various tasks, such as running errands and doing household chores.

Freelancers could now be hired to assemble IKEA’s famous flat-packed furniture.

In recent years, TaskRabbit has expanded to 40 cities across the US. Outside its home country, it chose London as its first international destination in 2013. Now, the acquisition by the world’s largest home furnishing retailer – which operates in 29 countries – could give it a platform to go global.

Despite this potential expansion, TaskRabbit will continue to operate as an independent firm.

IKEA’s latest moves have shown a proactive approach to adapting to change. The step in the gig economy also marks the beginning of a new phase under the group’s new CEO, Jesper Brodin. The company veteran took over command this month, replacing Peter Agnefjall, who had been leading IKEA since 2013.

In another move to include digital services, in August the Swedish firm launched IKEA Place, an augmented reality app, which allows people to virtually place furniture in their home.