It seems like TaskRabbit – which offered the long tail of peer-to-peer services – is laying off perhaps 20% of its 65 employees. That’s really disappointing and troubling for me. I’m a huge proponent of the idea that collaborative consumption will re-shape the way we consume goods and services – it will make us more efficient as a whole, and will enable each of us to get by without having to “own” everything in our lives and instead renting what we need “on-demand” and therefore deploying our capital more efficiently over our life and our society’s capital more efficiently as a civilization. Therefore I was really hoping to see great things from TaskRabbit. perhaps what we can learn is that highly-focused community-marketplace startups like AirBnB – which is just doing house-sharing really well – are easier for users to latch onto, and they fill an existing use-case: “let me find a short term sublet” or “let me find a hostel or other cheap short-term accommodation in city X.” Whereas taskrabbit was “get a person to do anything for any amount of money at any time” without doing a great job with giving the user a list of potential use-cases beyond “assemble my ikea furniture” and “go pickup my dry cleaning.”
I’m still very hopeful that RelayRides, GetAround, AirBnB, and others will prove successful.