Ikea is buying TaskRabbit, a platform for hiring someone to assemble your furniture

Ikea customers love the furniture — but they don’t always love putting it together.

With its acquisition of TaskRabbit, the on-demand service and errand platform, Ikea hopes to make it easier for shoppers to outsource the sometimes onerous work of moving and assembling their new purchases.

Both companies declined to comment Thursday on how much Ikea paid.

The deal makes sense for a company such as Ikea, according to analysts, who said many customers were already outsourcing furniture building.

TaskRabbit is a high-profile player in the so-called gig economy, a burgeoning category of business in which companies act as intermediaries that connect people in need of a service with those willing to provide a service.

The start-up's workers, often clad in the company’s signature green T-shirts, can be hired for chores or special tasks, such as picking up the dry cleaning or fixing a leaky faucet. And they're already being tasked with picking up the Allen wrench and assembling that hard-to-pronounce Ikea dresser, said Rory Masterson, industry analyst at market research firm IBISWorld.

The fact that the San Francisco company is profitable also didn’t hurt, he said.

The acquisition is also part of Ikea’s shifting focus from its physical stores to its online business. In recent years, traffic to Ikea’s website has surpassed the number of physical store visits reported by the company, though most sales are still done in-store, according to IBISWorld.

“This sort of service is the online business platform they’re striving to do more of,” Masterson said.

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 British locations. More countries may be added later.

The company said that when the deal is completed, something that is expected next month, TaskRabbit will remain an independent company within Ikea and stay based in San Francisco.

A spokesperson for TaskRabbit told the Los Angeles Times that no layoffs are on the horizon, and that the company’s existing leadership, including Chief Executive Stacy Brown-Philpot, will remain in their roles.

In a statement issued Thursday, Ikea Group President and CEO Jesper Brodin said the acquisition was part of the company’s mission to make customers’ lives easier.

“Entering the on-demand, sharing economy enables us to support that,” Brodin said. “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.”

TaskRabbit launched in 2008, making it one of the first start-ups offering an on-demand service. Most start-ups in that category, such as Uber and Lyft, still rely on venture and debt financing to stay afloat. Others, such as on-demand meal delivery start-up Sprig and on-demand home cleaning start-up Homejoy, have gone bust after hemorrhaging cash and failing to raise more. TaskRabbit’s spokesperson said the start-up was profitable.

The company declined to discuss its past funding rounds, although Crunchbase, a platform that tracks fundraising, reports that Taskrabbit has raised more than $37.6 million from venture capital firms such as Lightspeed Venture Partners, Shasta Ventures and Baseline Ventures.

A deal with Ikea probably gives TaskRabbit the resources to continue its expansion, and also delivers it a built-in global customer base that has a need for its services.

Ikea, a privately-held company, controls 9.7% of the market share for U.S. furniture stores, according to a September IBISWorld report. Its next closest competitor is Ashley Furniture Industries Inc., which has 6.3% of the market.

tracey.lien@latimes.com

Twitter: @traceylien

samantha.masunaga@latimes.com

Twitter: @smasunaga

The Associated Press was used in compiling this report.


UPDATES:

3:50 p.m.: This article was updated to include more context about TaskRabbit and the so-called gig economy.

1:50 p.m.: This article was updated to include comments from Ikea Group President and Chief Executive Jesper Brodin.

This article was originally published at 10 a.m.

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