Airtasker scoops up Occasional Butler, eyes New York

Startup deal follows 2013 acquisition of TaskBox

Airtasker co-founders Jonathan Lui (left) and Tim Fung. Credit: Airtasker

Airtasker co-founders Jonathan Lui (left) and Tim Fung. Credit: Airtasker

Airtasker has acquired Melbourne-based startup Occasional Butler.

The startup has has also revealed it is exploring international opportunities with executives spending “significant time in New York in recent months.”

Airtasker wants to open business in the US but will keep its HQ in Australia, Airtasker co-founder and CEO Tim Fung told Computerworld Australia.

“We’re not moving the team to New York and Sydney is definitely remaining our HQ for engineering and product, but we do have a team building in New York laying the groundwork,” Fung said.

“We’ve been working on the “desktop research” for several months but the “on-the-ground research” is showing us that there is still significant product development that will be required.”

For example, Airtasker has had to consider how to add tipping—common in the US—to its service, he said. Also, gardening – a top task in Australia – is not of much demand in New York, he said.

“So although there are tons of similarities (both cities use Google as the primary search, PayPal as a payment method and English as a language) there are lots of differences – and lots more competition to boot.”

Airtasker is a Sydney-based startup with a website that helps people or businesses find workers for a specific task. A “sender” can post a task – deliveries, house cleaning or computer tasks, for example – and then potential “runners” bid for the chance to complete the job.

Occasional Butler similarly allows users to post small jobs around the home or office for others to complete.

Airtasker now has 130,000 community members across Australia and an annual task run rate of $4 million.

Fung said Occasional Butler built “traction in some of our key task verticals” and “an incredibly vibrant community in Melbourne for people and businesses to outsource tasks.”

Occasional Butler co-founders Jodie and Erz Imam said they will stay on as community advisors at Airtasker.

“After meeting with Airtasker we realised that we shared a parallel vision of how a services marketplace should grow and we quickly found we could create an even better customer experience by forming one big marketplace across Australia,” they said in a joint statement.

No financial terms for the deal were disclosed. The agreement follows an acquisition by Airtasker of rival TaskBox in February 2013.

In March, Airtaker launched an insurance service for task-based work through a partnership with Lloyd’s of London.

Adam Bender covers telco and enterprise tech issues for Computerworld and is the author of dystopian sci-fi novels We, The Watched and Divided We Fall. Follow him on Twitter: @WatchAdam

Follow Computerworld Australia on Twitter: @ComputerworldAU, or take part in the Computerworld conversation on LinkedIn: Computerworld Australia

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