TaskRabbit is the gig-economy app for the truly lazy—so lazy, the startup realized, its users would pay a handyman to assemble their Ikea furniture, even though the directions tend to fit on a sheet of paper and the Swedish retailer’s products even come packed with a wrench. Now Ikea has succumbed to all the synergy: Recode reports that the company has bought TaskRabbit for an undisclosed price, adding the app’s legions of temp laborers doing box-packing and yardwork to its array of Poängs, Malms, and Lacks. The 9-year-old startup, which Recode says is profitable, confirmed in April that it was planning to sell itself after receiving interest from a “strategic buyer.”
Ikea may look like a particularly analog company, but this move isn’t its first digital experiment. It already has an augmented reality app for iOS, Ikea Place, which allows shoppers to virtually preview how its products will look and fit in one’s home. It also now sells wireless charging tables and smart bulbs.
Those TaskRabbits won’t just be on hand to put together your new Strandmon wing chair. Amazon partnered with the startup back in 2015 to integrate ads for handymen into the Amazon Home Services platform; the Ikea acquisition will allow TaskRabbit to continue seeking out similar deals.
But Ikea’s foray into the gig economy may expose it to the labor disputes that companies like GrubHub and Uber have recently faced over whether their workers should be treated as contractors or employees entitled to benefits. Depending on the outcome of the lawsuit Lawson v. Grubhub, currently underway in San Francisco, TaskRabbit and Ikea may soon have to shell out big money to provide their Malm-assemblers with health insurance and unemployment.